A relationship between two things in which each exerts pressure on the other, shaping each other’s development over time, is a coevolutionary relationship. It's a concept traditionally reserved to biology, but we can see the process at work elsewhere. Take the development of computers for example, and the way hardware and software advance alongside one another in a stepwise fashion. Individual expressions of computing technology are constantly becoming outmoded due to changes in the related hardware or software landscape, and new adaptations are always ‘evolving’ to fill their place – coevolution at work.
Could coevolution provide a new new outlook on climate change adaptation; one that sidesteps our often short-sighted and rigid treatment of the issue and opens up the possibility of a wider range of solutions? The majority of thinking on the subject today revolves around the question of how humans can adapt to climate change (i.e. how we might reinforce our now vulnerable and outmoded structures and norms to weather the coming storm). But coevolution inspires us to think laterally and ask how humans can adapt with climate change. It’s the slightest variation in phrasing, but it offers a completely different perspective.
The problem with simply asking how humans can adapt to climate change is that it puts us in a reactionary position - like playing a high stakes game of chess with mother nature. Rather than locking ourselves into an endgame, what we need is the freedom to change the entire playing field. We need to ask ourselves how we can build new technologies and customs to meet climate change challenges head-on. Rather than investing time and energy into propping up obsolete conventions, we need to make fundamental adjustments to our culture – adjustments that are in line with our quickly changing world. In short, we need to coevolve with climate change.
What do you think – can a change in perspective change the whole playing field? Can coevolution teach us how to adapt with climate change? We adapted before - can we adapt again?