Does Climate Still Matter? [Ausubel essay] : LUSENET : Human-Machine Assimilation : One Thread

Does Climate Still Matter?


We may be discovering climate as it becomes less important to well-being. A range of technologies appears to have lessened the vulnerability of human societies to climate variation.

Amidst widespread agreement that the planet is committed to at least some climatic change induced by human activity, there is growing pressure to "slow the greenhouse express" (ref. 1). Here I examine climate through the lens of technology and innovation, to clarify what adaptations have succeeded and the trends in vulnerability to climate. I also examine whether the greenhouse effect by itself will call into play new technologies, or whether the evolution of technology will largely be business as usual regardless of climate change. Finally, I identify some ways that government may assist adaptation.

My focus is on adaptability of human systems, including agriculture. Adaptability of ecosystems and the ethics of human behaviour that brings about large scale transformations of the Earth must also be considered in balancing responses to the greenhouse issue.

What are often labeled adaptive measures are themselves the impacts of climatic change. Innumerable adaptations in food, clothing and shelter are responses to the spatial and temporal variability of climate. Humans do not wait guilelessly to receive an impact, bear the loss, then respond with an adaptation. Rather they attempt to anticipate and forstall problems.


Technical innovations relevant to climate and their diffusion occur in all societies and sectors and in many forms. Technology includes both hardware (for example, materials, physical structures, devices and machines) and software (rules and recipes for behaviour).

-- Scott (, January 28, 2000

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