04 Apr 2014

We can’t stop climate change, so how do we adapt?

By Lily

I’ve just finished the IPCC report on Climate Change that came out earlier this week and it makes for some pretty terrifying reading. It’s big on catastrophe and low on comfort. It’s also pretty long so have tried to simplify it a little here:

The Bad News

The report identifies eight key risks:

  1. Risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones due to storm surges, coastal flooding, and  sea-level rise.
  2. Risk of severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods for large urban populations due to inland flooding in some regions.
  3. Systemic risks due to extreme weather events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services.
  4. Risk of mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations and those working outdoors in urban or rural areas.
  5. Risk of food insecurity linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes. This is particularly for poorer populations in urban and rural settings.
  6. Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity.
  7. Risk of loss of marine and coastal ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for coastal livelihoods.
  8. Risk of loss of terrestrial and inland water ecosystems, biodiversity, and the ecosystem goods, functions, and services they provide for livelihoods.

And these are just the risks directly related to climate. They do not include the indirect consequences such as mass migration, disease epidemics and conflict arising from food and water scarcity.

The “Good” News

  • “The overall risks of climate change impacts can be reduced by limiting the rate and magnitude of climate change.”  ie:  It’s not too late to reduce the impact of climate change.
  • “Adaptation planning and implementation can be enhanced through complementary actions across levels, from individuals to governments.” ie:  If we work together we can adapt to the tougher climate conditions.
  • “Transformations in economic, social, technological, and political decisions and actions can enable climate-resilient pathways.” ie: Innovations across all sectors can help us be more resilient.

So while that’s not exactly comforting, there is a sense that we can do something to make our impending doom a little easier to handle. At Bethnal Green Ventures we think that technology has the potential to tackle some of our toughest environmental challenges. We’ve supported a few ventures who are already working on these: Fairphone are leading the way in making e-waste a thing of the past; Mastodon C are promoting massively greener cloud computing; Open Utility are lowering the barriers for everyone to switch to renewable sources of power and Flooting, fresh from our latest cohort, are reducing the huge amount of our stuff that goes to landfill.

One of our favourite places to go talk and think about this stuff is CleanWeb Meetup – if you want to help stop the apocalypse you should definitely go along to their next one. And if you have an idea to tackle climate change using technology, we would love to hear from you! Our applications are now open for our summer programme.