Mitigation, adaptation and suffering

John Holdren, Barack Obama’ senior advisor on science and technology has been frequently quoted as saying:

We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.

This article from The Times by Matt Ridley prompted me to write this piece.IMG_0876

He makes the usual claim of mitigation pessimists that simply getting richer will allow us to adapt to climate change. Moreover, adaptation has better economics, and consequently in the minds of those driven by libertarian avarice, better ethics.

I will also take the opportunity to criticize metaphors of climate change mitigation that mention World War 2 retooling efforts, Marshall Plan scale investments and mitigation as a form of insurance.