This Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change Decision- Making

TitleThis Must Be the Place: Underrepresentation of Identity and Meaning in Climate Change Decision- Making
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAdger, WN, Barnett, J, Chapin, FS, Ellemor, H
JournalGlobal Environmental Politics
Volume11
Start Page1
Pagination1-25
Keywordswater
Abstract

Place and identity critical to adaptation to climate change

People make decisions about climate risks based on how they think it affects their life, their home, and their sense of community. While this appears to be obvious, most climate policy makes decisions on the basis of the economic costs and material impacts. So the issues of home, sense of place, and personal identity are not well captured in assessments of risks that rely on aggregating costs or risks to individuals.

This new paper by Neil Adger with Jon Barnett and Heidi Ellemor from the University of Melbourne and Terry Chapin from the University of Alaska, draws on data from Pacific islands and the Arctic. It explains the implications of failing to account for social resilience. First, planning for adaptation is less likely to be effective if the values people hold are ignored. Communities in Alaska are contemplating wholesale relocation, but only some places and means of moving are acceptable. Second, people have fundamental rights in all legal systems to life and livelihood, and many of these protections are around property and place. The cultural impacts of climate change are going to be as important as the economic ones.