Adaptation in the context of climate change can mean several different things. Three that I have been thinking about are:

1. At global and societal levels adaptation means setting up institutions and infrastructure that help people and ecosystems adjust to changing planetary conditions that are a consequence of climate change. This includes making insurance coverage faster and easier to access, providing financial support for lesser developed countries bearing the brunt of climate change burdens, building structures to channel or “control” water flows and sea-rise, and so on. This form of adaptation is good and necessary in my view, of course with the caveat that it shouldn’t stop mitigation efforts, conducted in parallel.

2. Another form of adaptation is psychological. Humans are very adaptable and tend to adjust to difficult situations remarkably quickly. This is a way to cope with problems, threats and dangers which seem out of one’s locus of control. One way to cope with the catastrophe of climate change is to put it out of mind in our daily lives, and to continue to seek sources of happiness and fulfillment elsewhere. This form of adaptation is quite bad because it leads us to postpone dealing with the problem directly.

3. A third form of adaptation is at the corporate level. Corporations are very good at adapting to societal expectations. If broader cultural trends are focused on issues related to climate, then corporations can adapt by pledging to be net-zero, developing products that are purportedly net-zero, and the like. If these trends change, or if certain stakeholders – such as the anti-ESG movement - push back, corporations generally tend to adapt to that as well. This form of adaptation is also worrisome to me because it is inconsistent and fickle.