Adaptation to climate change – not mitigation

It was pleasing to observe the responses from Jan & Yashimi Brett and Mary Kennedy (Times, September 7) to my letter (Times August 17) to confirm and reinforcing my commentary that deaths from climate catastrophes have declined by 20-fold over the past 100 years.
I agree that mankind has and will continue to deploy science, medicine, engineering and other human endeavours to adapt and to limit the adverse impacts of unavoidable climate change.
Climate has and always will change no matter the level of anthropogenic contribution to that change. In the meantime, NZ is determined to squander its capable but limited resources at the expense of its economic and social future, with its futile thrust to mitigate climate change through emissions reduction. Our focus needs to be on adaptation.
NZ emits less than 0.17 per cent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gasses while the major emitter, China, at more than 27 per cent of global emissions, is permitted to further increase emissions under the Paris Agreement by > 70 per cent by 2030.
By way of example, China has more than 1000 coal-fired power stations with more than 40 more new giant plants at the planning/build stage. NZ can have no impact on climate change by impotent yet costly attempts at mitigating that change through reductions in its infinitesimal emissions.
What NZ can do is to shift our limited resources and strategic focus from mitigation to adaptation to anticipate and reduce the impact of climate change and its adverse flow into our economy and societal wellbeing. The scope of such adaptions might include, but not be limited to, practical initiatives such as:
• Introduction of diverse horticultural varieties and animal breeds that can sustain and thrive in higher temperatures.
• Urban and rural planning to accommodate the challenges that will come from climate change – flooding, sea levels, water management, shade requirements etc
• Building Code scope to include insulation and ventilation for warmer rather than cooler climes, treatment of timber to resist termite and other infestation, etc.
• Disease management and control including malaria, bilharzia and the like.
Sadly, it will take a yet-to-be-born generation to wake up and realise the folly of this generation perusing a futile mitigation strategy.
Interestingly the correspondents above imply that the ‘science is settled’. That is a ‘group think’ myth. Climate change science is not settled. That is the very nature of the scientific method. In fact, the Royal Society of London and the National Academy of Science of USA have many Fellow members who do not endorse their societies’ public position on climate change.
May the younger generation be led by curiosity, facts, open minds but not by emotional ideologies – unlike Greta Thunberg.
Deane Smart, Farm Cove