Until now, the climate debate has focused on the basic science and the costs and benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That stage is now ending, with a resounding consensus on the risk of climate change and the need for action. Attention will now increasingly turn to the urgent challenge of adapting to the changes and helping those who are most affected.
Some hard-hit places will be salvaged by better infrastructure that protects against storm surges or economizes on water for agriculture. Others will shift successfully from agriculture to industry and services. Yet some places will be unable to adjust altogether, and populations are likely to suffer and to move. We are just beginning to understand these phenomena in quantitative terms. Economists, hydrologists, agronomists, and climatologists will have to join forces to take the next steps in scientific understanding.