Adaptation and resilience are important. We have to deal with the adverse effects of climate change that are already being felt: coastal floods and worse droughts, floods and other dangerous weather events. But if we fail to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and stem global warming, we will exceed our collective adaptive capacity as a civilization.
When fossil-fuel-friendly Republican Senator Marco Rubio tells Floridians they just need to “adjust” to rising sea levels (how? Growing fins and gills?), He tries to make it look like it has a meaningful solution when in fact it is only offering empty rhetoric and a license for polluters to continue their business as usual. It is a delaying tactic.
What about geoengineering? Should we engage in a huge, unprecedented and uncontrolled experiment to intervene further in our planetary environment, for example by throwing particles of sulfur into the stratosphere to block the sun in the hope of somehow compensating for it? another the warming effect of increased carbon pollution?
The law of unintended consequences almost certainly guarantees that we will screw up the planet even more. The idea of geoengineering also grants a license for the pursuit of carbon pollution. There’s a reason Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and Secretary of State to Donald Trump, dismissed the climate crisis as just an “engineering problem.” If we can just clean up our law later, why not keep burning fossil fuels? It is also a delaying tactic – a tactic that allows polluters to buy time to keep making billions in profits as we mortgage the future livability of the planet.