Adaptation to climate change

Climate change

Written December, 2012

The differential susceptibility of peoples around the world to climate change warrants an ethical discussion. We need to identify effective and safe ways to help people deal with the effects of climate change, as well as learn to manage and manipulate wild species and nature in order to preserve biodiversity. Some of these adaptation strategies might be highly technical (e.g. building sea walls to stem off sea level rise), but others are social and cultural (e.g., changing agricultural practices).

It will likely be too expensive to adapt to climate change everywhere, protecting all peoples and creatures, but figuring out where, how, and when to implement adaptation strategies is a major challenge for natural and social scientists. Grappling with what climate change and climate change adaptation means for humanity and our role in nature is a major challenge for humanists.

In April, the University of Notre Dame hosted a conference called Climate Change and the Common Good: Security, Sustainability, Policy. The multidisciplinary conference explored the challenges and opportunities society faces in addressing climate change and resource scarcity and brought together scientists, ethicists, policyexperts, theologians, and national security experts. Videos from the conference are now online. Click below for more details:

In order to help readers understand the nature of climate change as well as
various adaptation strategies, we have compiled the resources below:

Notre Dame Resources: 

Climate Change Adaptation (from the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative) See video here.

Professor Jessica Hellmann’s blog Adapting Nature to Climate Change

Climate Change and the Common Good conference (Notre Dame, April 8-10, 2013)

The Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change

Prof. Jessica Hellmann’s Reilly Forum talk on “Fixing the global commons: what humans can and should do to help nature live and thrive through climate change” 

Government Websites:

AAAS Global Climate Change Resources

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Change Resources

Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

NASA’s Climate Change Resource Reel

NASA Innovations in Climate Change

National Climatic Data Center, Resources and Outreach

USDA Climate Change Resource Center

US Global Change Research Program’s Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Change


Click here for reading suggestions from Catholic Climate Covenant

Clicking on the book titles below will take you to the page for those books.

Social Media: 


ND Climate Conference @ClimateND

ND Environmental Change Initiative @ND_ECI

ND Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values @NDReillyCenter

ND Biology Professor Jessica Hellmann @JessicaHellmann

Andrew Revkin @Revkin

Catholic Climate Covenant ‏ @CatholicClimate

Climate Progress @climateprogress

Union of Concerned Scientists ‏ @UCSUSA


Official Event page for Climate Change and the Common Good conference

Catholic Climate Covenant

Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative

The Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values


Climate Feedback (from Nature Climate Change)

New York Times Dot Earth Blog (Andrew Revkin)

Real Climate

Resources for kids:

NASA Climate Kids

US EPA Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change