(Explore) I have been reading the reports on global warming at the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a business school professor, I am particularly interested in how human communities, economies, and businesses will adapt to the challenges of the future. I have been studying the polar region and Greenland in particular because I think these places are the most affected right now--by studying how communities and economies in this region adapt, perhaps there can be lessons for all of us.
Once one gets over the shocking facts in the report--for example, there is now at least one model of ice melt that has the north pole free of ice, all year, by 2013--the interesting tone of the report is that adaptation will be highly localized. And indeed at my conference, where we had a number of environmentalists, the message was the same: While climate change is global, its effects and solutions will be highly localized. Right now we see a lot of "top-down" activity--Kyoto accord, Walmart's positive efforts--but in the future the resilience of our society will be based on local creativity and political courage.