Felix Salmon has a nice piece in Slate looking at corporate adaptation strategies to climate change– or more accurately, the absence of such strategies. Why have few companies developed such things?
Adaptation strategies have essentially zero PR value. They have nothing to do with saving the planet. Instead, they're all about trying to thrive if and when the planet starts to fall apart…. Climate change takes place over decades, and corporate timescales generally max out in the five-to-seven-year range…. It's easy to talk about how hotel companies with coastal property might have to face more hurricanes or rising sea levels. But it's quite hard to know what is going to happen to any given beachfront resort with a sufficiently high degree of certainty. … Finally, even if the effects of climate change are foreseeable, they can be impossible to hedge.
The behavioral economist Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, likes to say that climate change is a problem that is perfectly designed to make people do nothing: It happens far in the future; its effects will be felt most greatly by other people; and the efforts of any one individual are minuscule.
You could say the same for governments– very few are capable of looking or acting decades into the future. However, I think we know enough— thanks to people like Ariely, as well as the better strategists and business writers– to construct tools that help us start to create the long-term perspectives— think of them as counter-perspectives– that would make it possible for us to deal with such problems.