Environment and Sustainability - University of Exeter
Futures Forum: The University of Exeter... and Climate Change
An event is coming up at the University:
Limits to adaptation to climate change: a risk approach
Part of the Environment and Sustainability HASS theme
|A Humanities and Social Sciences Strategy research event|
|Date||16 December 2013|
|Time||16:00 to 18:00|
Video conferenced to Daphne Du Maurier Seminar G, Penryn.
Professor Frans Berkhout, Professor of Environment, Society and Climate at Kings College London
As attention to adaptation to climate change increases, there is a growing call for adaptation approaches that focus on risk management.
There is also greater recognition that the rate and magnitude of climate variability and change may exceed the limits to adaptation of socio-ecological systems.
The talk will set out an actor-centred, risk-based definition for adaptation limits in social systems.
Adaptation limits are framed as the point at which an actor's objectives cannot be secured from intolerable risks through adaptive actions.
These limits are significant because exceeding a limit will either result in intolerable losses on the affected actor or system, or precipitate a discontinuous (or transformational) change of behaviour by actors.
Such discontinuities in behaviour have implications for the distribution of risks, with potentially significant governance consequences.
Professor Berkhout will discuss further research into adaptation limits and challenges to risk governance.
For more information about Professor Frans Berkhout please click here.
16:15 Limits to adaptation to climate change: a risk approach
17:15 Drinks reception with mulled wine and mince pies
Please register for this event using the contact details below.
|Provider||Humanities and Social Sciences Strategy|
|Organizer||Research and Knowledge Transfer Events|
This lecture is based on the paper which Prof Berkhout contributed to:
Limits to adaptation to climate change: a risk approach
Limits to adaptation : Nature Climate Change : Nature Publishing Group
There have been several critiques published too:
What are the limits to climate change adaptation?JOHANNESBURG, 2 July 2013 (IRIN) - In the absence of decisive action to significantly cut the emission of earth-warming greenhouse gases, most poor countries have resigned themselves to adapting to the effects of climate change. But as recent data show, the global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit 400 parts per million - something that has not happened in the last million years, and possibly not in the last 25 million years, according to aNational Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist - leading to the questions: do even we know what we are adapting to, and what are the limits to our adaptation?
A recent paper published in Nature Climate Change points out that many communities are already facing limits to their capacity to adapt. They suggest the development of a framework to define and identify these limits, both for individuals and for communities.
One of the paper’s six authors, Richard Klein, a senior researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute and an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, explained in an email to IRIN, "For example, a farmer may no longer be able to grow enough food to sustain his or her family (e.g., due to saltwater intrusion or recurring droughts) and decide to give up farming and move to the city to become an informal worker. On the one hand, that's a form of adaptation, but from the perspective of the farmer, who would have preferred to keep farming, a limit has been reached. But from the perspective of the community or the country, food security may not be at risk so no limit has been reached.”
Knowing the extent to which an individual, community or country can adapt will be critical for policymakers, including those charting a country’s agricultural path and those planning for urban growth.
Yet little is known about the limits of adaptation. “It's intuitive that the existence of limits should have policy implications, but the challenge is that, even though we know that limits are real, our ability to predict them is very small indeed,” said Klein.
The authors suggest a risk-based approach to define these limits and a framework to identify them.
“Limits to adaptation are a function of both the rate and magnitude of climate change, and adaptive capacity,” wrote Klein. “Limits are also scale-dependent; they could refer to individual farmers or households, to communities, to sectors, to countries, and so on.”
The authors propose defining an “adaptation limit as a point at which an actor can no longer secure valued objectives from intolerable risk through adaptive action.”
They offer rice farming as an example. South Asian rice plants' ability to pollinate and flower peaks at 26 degrees Celsius; there is a 10 percent decline in yield for every one degree Celsius above that. Here, the “adaptation limit” is the inability to breed rice varieties that pollinate at all above 32 to 35 degrees Celsius. The “valued objective” is to produce rice as a staple crop and for export. The “intolerable risk is a level of loss in rice production, farmer livelihoods, income from exports and food security. Rising temperatures increase the future probability that rice harvests may fail.”
If this adaptation limit is reached, alternative sources of affordable rice will have to be found for consumers, and rice farmers will have to grow other crops to compensate for the loss of income.
Preparing for hardships
Collective efforts to adapt will likely be a complex process, as the authors point out the tolerable degree of risk varies from individual to individual. The best policies would better manage change before the capacity to adapt is exhausted.
But much more must be learned before appropriate policies can be developed. The authors underscore the urgent need for research in key areas - including agriculture, water resources management and disease control - “to determine where limits may exist so that actors may anticipate and plan to mediate the hardships that cannot be avoided.”
They suggest a focus on strengthening early warning systems within countries and communities and improving the capacity to operate across the various scales - from individuals to sectors - as the impact of climate change unfolds.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]IRIN Global | What are the limits to climate change adaptation? | Global | Aid Policy | Disaster Risk Reduction | Early Warning | Economy | Environment | Food Security | Governance | Health & Nutrition | Natural Disasters
adaptation to climate change | The Climatographers
The limits of climate adaptation are social, not physical or economic | Grist