Exploring Climate Resilience and Energy Sense

I visited Los Angeles this week to discuss new approaches to environmental communication with students and faculty at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability of the University of California, Los Angeles. I also joined two of the university’s professors — the climate scientist Alex Hall and the environmental historian Jon Christensen — for an onstage Zócalo Public Square discussion of this question: “Should we just adapt to climate change?” (The answer of course is…drumroll…no.)

I encourage you to watch the conversation above. I’ve had time to transcribe a few sections, which are appended below, but wanted first to summarize an important point made by Hall, who has been using models to project regional temperature shifts for the Los Angeles region.

Hall said that by mid-century the region may see 4 to 5 degrees F. of warming — as well as more frequent stretches of dangerously hot summer days — under a “business as usual” emissions trajectory. But even in an idealized (i.e., impossible) future in which worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions were somehow deeply curtailed, the city would still see 70 percent of that warming. Only late in the century would the unabated gas buildup cause a much bigger regional heating.

A central take-home message, he said (and I agreed), is that adaptation to heat is a prime imperative even as the much tougher task of moving beyond conventional use of fossil fuels is pursued.

To read the full blog entry click here.