The Vulnerability Perspective

UPDATE: September 22 2009: There is a post on my son’s weblog titled “Incoherence Continues on Adaptation” which provides an excellent example of why we need a broad based, inclusive vulnerability perspective.

I am working to encourage the adoption of the assessment of vulnerability as a focusing approach for the climate community (as well as for colleagues that are involved in other types of environmental research).  This is a much more useful and comprehensive bottom-up, resource-based approach to reduce societal and environmental risk to climate variability and change than relying on the use of multi-decadal global climate model  projections.

I recently summarized this perspective in the following short text:

There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.

The advantage of the bottom-up, resource-based perspective is summarized in Table E.7 in

Pielke, R.A. Sr., and L. Bravo de Guenni, 2004: Conclusions. Chapter E.7 In: Vegetation, Water, Humans and the Climate: A New Perspective on an Interactive System. Global Change – The IGBP Series, P. Kabat et al., Eds., Springer, 537-538.

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2004: Discussion Forum: A broader perspective on climate change is needed. IGBP Newsletter, 59, 16-19

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