WHAT OTHERS SAY: Debate about climate change is essentially over

Monday, April 7, 2014 | 12:25 p.m. CDT

The United Nations' new emphasis on the need to adapt to climate change is welcome.

Previously the U.N. was focused too narrowly on trying to stop the world from growing warmer.

But global climate talks have shown repeatedly that the world's nations are too worried about damaging their economies, too focused on gaining advantage over their rivals and too suspicious of each other to take effective action to slow the production of greenhouse gases.

Developing effective ways to adapt is a worthwhile step while the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to rise. In the event catastrophic change does prompt global cooperation at some point in the future, adaptation will still be necessary.

The Atlantic magazine pointed out that early climate change reports in the 1990s from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scarcely mentioned adaptation.

As recently as 2007 its report had only two pages on adaption options. In contrast, the preliminary report released recently devotes four chapters to adaptation strategy.

The nature of discussion on climate change also increasingly is focused on its potential to interfere with food production.

Expect to hear a lot in the future about steps that should be taken to help the Midwest breadbasket states preserve their ability to feed the nation and the world.

Proposals on how to adapt to climate change will not produce the same amount of backlash as schemes to limit greenhouse gases.

In many cases the ideas that will help food producers adapt to a warmer planet will also help them cope with the ordinary fluctuations of weather.

The debate about climate change is essentially over. It's happening. The deniers will always be among us, in the same way a segment of the population rejects the theory of evolution.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change points the way for the world to finally take meaningful action to cope.

As Chris Field, co-chair of the working group that produced the report said, "climate-change adaptation is not an exotic agenda that has never been tried," and this "forms a starting point for bolder, more ambitious adaptations that will be important as climate and society continue to change."

Copyright Lincoln Journal-Star. Distributed by the Associated Press.

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