Fast Tracking Climate Adaptation–tapping our natural tendency to experiment

Moving from “muddling through” to “adaptive muddling” and developing the tools for a just transformation in the face of climate change. Why we need a new approach to fast tracking adaptation.

Note: This originally appeared as a guest post on Our Place on Earth. My Projects page describes the Sustainability Experimentation Venture Network, a very early-stage project with Pradip Swarnakar aimed at leveraging knowledge embodied in dispersed small-scale, community-based sustainability experiments. Given some similarities to Our Place on Earth’s TRAC2 Toolkit, we hope to collaborate sometime in the near future.

Human beings have always experimented to adapt. When our ancestors migrated from savannahs to temperate forests they likely tested their existing hunting and gathering techniques to see if they would work in the new environment. Old hunting methods and tools probably had to be adapted to new species. New typologies of poisonous and edible plant species had to be developed through trial and error (i.e., experimentation). New techniques of food storage and preparation needed to be tested. New sources of water had to be located and tested. Shelter. Waste disposal. Health. The list goes on. Every old practice for sustaining the life of a population had to be tested in the new environment and abandoned or adapted.