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Environmental Values

Adaptation As Precaution

Lauren Hartzell-Nichols

Environmental Values 23 (2014): 149-164. doi: 10.3197/096327114X13894344179121


Precaution is usually associated with the intuition that it is better to be safe than sorry, and/or that it is sometimes necessary to act in advance of scientific certainty to prevent harmful outcomes. At this point, we cannot entirely prevent climate change, but we can affect how harmful such change is. Adaptation may therefore be understood as a precautionary measure against the damage due to climate change. 'The' precautionary principle alone is too vague to shape adaptation policy, but a limited catastrophic precautionary principle may productively guide adaptation policy makers. I argue in this paper that an explicit commitment to a precautionary approach based on the catastrophic precautionary principle could and should be made to strengthen the adaptation policies introduced at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


Adaptation, Climate Change, Precaution, Precautionary Principle, UNFCCC

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

The Lack of Clarity in the Precautionary Principle.Derek Turner and Lauren Hartzell

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Adapting to a Perilous Planet. Kenneth Shockley and Andrew Light

Editorial: The Ethics of Engineering the Climate. Christian Baatz, Clare Heyward and Harald Stelzer

Geographers Versus Managers: Expert Influence on the Construction of Values Underlying Flood Insurance in the United States. Emmy Bergsma

Who Should Pay for Climate Adaptation? Public Attitudes and the Financing of Flood Protection in Florida. Samuel Merrill, Jack Kartez, Karen Langbehn, Frank Muller-Karger, Catherine J. Reynolds

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