Columban Missionary Fr. Sean McDonagh is attending the U. N. Climate Change conference in Copenhagen. He sent NCR this discussion on the issue of "Adaptation," a term widely used in the climate change debate, defined as the socioeconomic, institutional and cultural ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
An example of an adaptation strategy to prevent damage from climate change is shore protection (e.g., dikes, bulkheads, beach nourishment), which can prevent sea level rise from inundating low-lying coastal property, eroding beaches, or worsen flooding. If the costs or environmental impacts of shore protection are high compared with the property being protected, an alternative adaptation strategy would be a planned retreat, in which structures are relocated inland as shores retreat.
One possible outcome of the Copenhagen conference agreement will be the establishment of a worldwide Adaptation strategy and fund, a centralized pool of both financing and think-tank strategizing. As a member of a missionary order, Fr. McDonagh has been working on this issue for a long time.