Has the issue of climate change got you thinking? Or does the thought of it, and your sense of powerlessness, fill you with dread? Many of us are struggling with the reality. With heatwaves, the worst storms on record, elevated sea levels, melting ice caps, forest fires and devastating flooding filling the headlines, it’s hard to ignore. We feel for those bereaved or made homeless, and we acknowledge that we are facing a truly existential threat. But what should we do about it?
If you aren’t already adapting to climate change, you will be soon. And so will billions of others. It’s no longer a topic to ignore. However, is adaptation the answer? Or is talk of adaptation a license for damaging complacency rather than positive achievement? This is the subject of a new book by campaigner Dr Morgan Phillips.
This new book, Great Adaptations is released this week, ahead of the global COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. In it, Phillips argues that, while the concept of ‘adaptation’ may have fierce critics, it is important to distinguish between different types of adaptation. There are bad adaptations (mal-adaptations) which can exacerbate social injustice, cause deep ecological harm, and even hasten the onset of dangerous climate change. And there are great adaptations which transform peoples’ lives and contribute to the achievement of broader societal goals.
A call to action in 12 chapters
Across 12 captivating and beautifully illustrated chapters, Phillips recounts stories of adaptation from the air-conditioned pavements of Doha and the feral camels of Australia, to the ‘cool rooms’ of Paris and the ‘fog catchers’ of Morocco. These are the lesser-told stories of climate change. The great adaptation case histories will be inspirations for the positive adaptations of the future. While the stories of mal-adaptations will, hopefully, act as warnings.
Great Adaptations is intended as a call to action. It advocates adaptations that are ecologically restorative and socially just. It examines how the arguments about adaptation are framed, unpicks the contested notion of Deep Adaptation, and explores the potential of Transformative Adaptation. Plus, it questions the legitimacy of the ‘reassuring stories’ that still dominate mainstream climate discourse.
Great Adaptations is conversational yet provocative. It’s engaging and visually arresting. Tactile and pocket-sized, it hopes to be a very shareable object. Who should read it? Well, it’ll appeal to both academics and experts concerned about climate change. But also to anyone who’s interested. You don’t need to be a scientist or professor to get something out of it.
This is Phillips’ contribution to the debate about climate adaptation with a study of real-life adaptation projects (good and bad) from around the world. In his beautifully-produced book Great Adaptations, Phillips hopes to dispel many misconceptions and myths.
Great Adaptations by Dr Morgan Phillips, published by Arkbound Foundation, is out now.