Climate change mitigation is action to decrease the intensity of radiative forcing in order to reduce the effects of global warming. In contrast, adaptation to global warming involves acting to tolerate the effects of global warming. Most often, climate change mitigation scenarios involve reductions in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, either by reducing their sources or by increasing their sinks.
The UN defines mitigation in the context of climate change, as a human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases. Examples include using fossil fuels more efficiently for industrial processes or electricity generation, switching to renewable energy (solar energy or wind power), improving the insulation of buildings, and expanding forests and other "sinks" to remove greater amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some assert that also non-renewable sources of energy such as nuclear power should be seen as a way of reducing carbon emissions. The International Atomic Energy Agency advocates this approach. However, even while reporting to the UN, the IAEA is independent from it and in no way affiliated with the UNFCCC.
Scientific consensus on global warming, together with the precautionary principle and the fear of abrupt climate change is leading to increased effort to develop new technologies and sciences and carefully manage others in an attempt to mitigate global warming. Most means of mitigation appear effective only for preventing further warming, not at reversing existing warming. The Stern Review identifies several ways of mitigating climate change. These include reducing demand for emissions-intensive goods and services, increasing efficiency gains, increasing use and development of low-carbon technologies, and reducing fossil fuel emissions.
The energy policy of the European Union has set a target of limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C (3.6 °F) compared to preindustrial levels, of which 0.8 °C has already taken place and another 0.5–0.7 °C is already committed. The 2 °C rise is typically associated in climate models with a carbon dioxide equivalent concentration of 400–500 ppm by volume; the current (April 2011) level of carbon dioxide alone is 393 ppm by volume, and rising at 1-3 ppm annually. Hence, to avoid a very likely breach of the 2 °C target, CO2 levels would have to be stabilised very soon; this is generally regarded as unlikely, based on current programs in place to date. The importance of change is illustrated by the fact that world economic energy efficiency is presently improving at only half the rate of world economic growth.
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Famous quotes containing the words mitigation, climate and/or change:
“Law is a thing which is insensible, and inexorable, more beneficial and more profitious to the weak than to the strong; it admits of no mitigation nor pardon, once you have overstepped its limits.”
—Titus Livius (Livy)
“Is not their climate foggy, raw, and dull,
On whom, as in despite, the sun looks pale,
Killing their fruit with frowns?”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)
“His talk was like a spring, which runs
With rapid change from rocks to roses:
It slipped from politics to puns,
It passed from Mahomet to Moses;
Beginning with the laws which keep
The planets in their radiant courses,
And ending with some precept deep
For dressing eels, or shoeing horses.”
—Winthrop Mackworth Praed (18021839)