Letter: weathering change

November 24, 2000

Merylyn McKenzie Hedger ("Man is messing up the climate", THES , November 3) was right to flag the issue of climate change adaptation. For too long, debate has centred on how best to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions, rather than on the equally complex puzzle of how to adapt to its unfolding impact at the local level.

The climate is changing, but we also need to know what society will look like in 30 to 50 years. Today's policy-makers need that information so they can judge whether or not they are on the right path.

We integrated future socio-economic and climate scenarios to show how humans affect - and are affected by - the climate. When we showed these "pictures" of possible future worlds to business and government agencies in East Anglia, we found most had very short time horizons. Few had ever thought about climate change, and the majority desperately needed new sources of advice.

Our integrated scenarios promoted social learning by encouraging people to think about the long-term consequences of their current behaviour.

Andrew Jordan and Irene Lorenzoni School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia

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