The Adaptation Imperative
Climate change will frame the future for communities across the globe. Responding to climate impacts as diverse as altered rainfall patterns, more frequent or intense extreme events, or rising sea levels will challenge decision makers at every level of government and in every sector of the economy. What steps should be taken to protect vital infrastructure such as roads, dams, and factories, or to ensure the safety of housing stocks—both existing and yet to be built? What policies should be adopted or investments made to help agriculture adapt to new rainfall and temperature regimes and secure local food supplies? How should vulnerable ecosystems like forests or coral reefs be managed to maintain the vital services they render and the livelihoods they support?
In this chapter, we explore both the difficulty of answering these sorts of questions and the concurrent pressing need to do exactly that. After examining the challenges of decision making for adaptation, it presents the outline and methodology for World Resources 2010-2011, setting the stage for the report as a whole.