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Visit Our Developers Site. David was no more of an underdog than our rodent ancestors.

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When the circumstance came about, both were able to take best advantage of the situation before them. Neither example needs to rely on a cataclysmic event or singular moment of change, but I am trying to drive home the element of the opportunity, which in many cases is as much of a slow burn than it is a meteor strike, or a rock between the eyes.

Or maybe cyborgs. Become a member. Sign in. Get started. Adapt or die: Inspiration comes in different ways. Carson McKee Follow. Inspiration Advertising Marketing Agencylife Media. Marketing and Advertising.

What Charles Darwin can teach Tom Ridge about homeland security.

Write the first response. Discover Medium. They are too poor to defend themselves by expensive flood controls or sophisticated public-health programmes.

And unlike China or Brazil their own carbon footprints are tiny. Kirk Smith, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, calls climate change the world's biggest regressive tax: the poorest pay for the behaviour of the rich see map. The new focus on adaptation shows itself in a slew of private- and public-sector projects. Swiss Re is designing new kinds of subsidised insurance to help poor farmers in a dozen African countries guard against some of the impacts of climate change, creating innovative climate-risk indices and weather derivative contracts.

Dozens of small firms advise big ones on cutting their carbon footprints; although most aim at reducing emissions, a few invest in reforestation, soil protection and the like.

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Adapt or Die

On the public-sector side, rich-country governments are levying new taxes and using the revenues for global poverty-reduction and adaptation. Some environmentalists want a similar tax on all international flights to help adaptation. Countries are creating adaptation funds by auctioning rights to pollute under cap-and-trade arrangements. Most important, a United Nations conference in Bali last December set up what is essentially a global tax on carbon, with the money to be spent by an international body.

Under the Kyoto protocol, companies in rich countries that have signed the climate accords can finance reductions in emissions by private firms in developing nations.

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In return, rich-country companies can offset a portion of their own capped emissions. So adaptation is becoming a proper business. As it does so, however, it encounters a host of problems. To begin with, the money involved is just a puff of smoke. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the cost of coping with climate change is in the tens of billions a year for poor countries see table. China says rich countries should allocate 0.

But most rich countries are failing to fulfil earlier promises to increase aid for other reasons, so that looks like a non-starter. The discrepancy means poor countries will end up bearing most of the burden themselves. China has a national climate-change programme with an elaborate series of targets and exhortations to cope. But this sort of thing is much easier for giants like China or large countries like Bangladesh, than it is for poorer Mali or tiny Maldives.

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With more problems than money, there will—as always—be a fight over the spoils. Rich countries may concede the poor are harder hit and need help, but once there is a pot of money, they too will want a share.


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For an American administration, rebuilding the levees of New Orleans an adaptation programme will take precedence over projects in Africa or the Caribbean. Even if poor countries do get help, there are bound to be fights over how to use it.