That means elevating buildings, making taller and stronger dams and seawalls, rerouting water systems, restricting certain developments, changing farming practices and ultimately moving people, plants and animals out of harm's way.
Adapting to rising seas and higher temperatures is expected to be a big topic at the UN climate-change talks in Copenhagen next week, along with the projected cost - hundreds of billions of dollars, much of it going to countries that cannot afford it.
That adaptation will be a major focus is remarkable in itself. Until the past couple of years, experts avoided talking about adjusting to global warming for fear of sounding fatalistic or causing countries to back off efforts to reduce emissions.
"It's something that's been neglected, hasn't been talked about and it's something the world will have to do," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Adaptation is going to be absolutely crucial for some societies."
Text & Images: AP
Image: In this file photo taken on June 23, 2008, floodwater from the Mississippi River surrounds a small shed behind a house in Foley, Mo.