Author: Philippe Benoit

Pakistan flooding shows ‘adapting’ to climate change can be a dangerous illusion

Source(s): Inter Press Service International Association

One third of Pakistan is now under water. The scope of the destruction is difficult to fathom, not just the enormity of the devastation its people are facing today, but also the damage to its infrastructure, its buildings, and its economy that will weigh heavily on the country for months and even years to come.

While experts may debate the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions impacting Pakistan’s weather patterns may be to blame, the scale of this devastation shows the shortcomings of invoking notions of “adaptation” as a meaningful strategy to respond to climate change’s destructive force.


Because our historical and future GHG emissions will produce some degree of climate change, we indeed do need to fund measures to respond to the inescapable changes in weather patterns and climate more broadly – even as, through mitigation action, we seek to lower our GHG emissions to limit how much our climate will change.

Yet, the recent events in Pakistan illustrate the shortcomings of an adaptation strategy in the face of widespread devastation. Any notion of “adapting” to these events is tragically misplaced. We cannot, just as countries cannot adapt to the destruction of war. They can resist, fight, look to recover, but the tragedy they suffer cannot be undone.


Pakistan cannot be expected to adapt to having one third of its country under water. Families should not be expected to adapt to the tragedy climate change can inflict.

Let’s find another term that better conveys what is truly within our reach in responding to climate change so that we can have a clearer appreciation of the climate threats we face. The global community can indeed work to reduce the loss people will suffer and do a better job at helping them to recover and rebuild. But truly “adapting” to the devastation that climate change can cause is a dangerously misleading notion.


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Hazards Flood
Country and region Pakistan
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