Adaptation and Mitigation | Climate Wisconsin

NARRATOR: Have you noticed our climate is changing? And when we say climate, we're not referring to day-to-day changes in weather. We're talking long-term trends, changes that you can only see over a long period of time, like shorter ice cover on lakes, warmer average winter temperatures, longer summers, more frequent heat waves and flooding from severe storms. These changes in climate can be difficult to see as we go about our daily lives, but they are important because they impact our communities, economy and culture. The way we live is based on the climate we live in. Warmer winters means less ice fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, all vital parts of our culture and economy. Longer summers mean farmers have a longer growing season, but more bugs and diseases to deal with. Heat waves may be nice if you're on the beach, but they can harm vulnerable people like the elderly and young or those who don't have access to cooler places.

And flooding from heavy rain can destroy homes, roads and crops. As our climate continues to change, impacts are becoming more and more serious. And even if climate change is not impacting your community now, it will soon. But how and when we react, though, is up to us. We can adapt, which means we change the way we live based on how our communities are being impacted. If flooding is a problem, we can redesign storm water systems to handle more water, and we can plant trees and crops suited for longer, warmer growing seasons. We can plant vegetation to provide more shade for coldwater trout streams, keeping the water temperatures down, and we can develop heat emergency action plans to assist vulnerable people during heat waves. "Adaptation," identifying and preparing for the impacts of climate change, helps in the short run and can save property, money, lives and even wildlife. But in the long run, if we are to slow climate change, we have to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in an effort to reduce global warming.

This is called mitigation. Small steps like driving and flying less, decreasing energy use or reducing consumption are all examples of mitigation. But if mitigation of climate change is to be effective, it has to be on a large scale, which means we have to reduce harmful emissions as individuals, as communities, as businesses, as states, as countries and, collectively, as a world..