Since the onset of rapid modern industrialization some 140 years ago, the mean global temperature has risen by 0.8 °C. This shift to warmer temperatures is not only a result of natural factors but is also caused by anthropogenic influence mainly due to intensified land use and the combustion of fossil fuels leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions. In order to preserve an environment worth living in, both for current and future generations, it is undoubtedly of crucial importance to develop and apply strategies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This mitigation concept, as it seems, is a general consensus in the current climate debate.
However, viewing climate as a simple system with sharply defined initial and boundary conditions which can be stabilized or even restored to a definite state by merely controlling man-driven factors is not sufficient. This approach has, actually, led to a standstill in the climate negotiations as was demonstrated again at COP17 in Durban at the end of last year. From the geoscientific perspective, climate is not an autonomous system but part of our highly complex Planet Earth with intricate, non-linear interaction of its relevant subsystems atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere and biosphere. Related to this constellation, a regulation of the global climate does not seem possible through mitigation strategies alone. Of equal importance are, therefore, the development and application of adaptation strategies for the inevitable consequences of climate change.