Andy Revkin’s Example Of Contextual Vulnerability

In the post

Two Perspectives On Vulnerability – The IPCC view And The Bottom-Up Perspective

I presented the figure

Figure caption: Framework depicting two interpretations of vulnerability to climate change: (a) outcome vulnerability and (b) contextual vulnerability. From: Füssel [2009] and O’Brien, K. L. et al. [2007].

and wrote

“The outcome vulnerability is the IPCC approach where “climate change” in the left side of the figure is typically obtained from the IPCC-type multi-decadal global climate model projections. With the contextual vulnerability, however,  ”climate variability and change” represent just one of the stressors.”

As announced in the post

Revkin on Tornadoes, Vulnerability and Preparedness

Andy Revkin has presented an excellent example of why the bottom-up focus on vulnerability (the contextual vulnerability) is much more effective at reducing risk than a top-down approach based on downscaling from multi-decadal global climate model predictions (outcome vulnerability) in his post

In Tornado Zones, Seeking Shelter From the Storm

Andy’s post includes the statements

“… is irresponsible not to mention the need to reduce inherent and avoidable human vulnerability to tornadoes in the crowding South, particularly in low-income regions with flimsy housing. I saw barely a mention of these realities in recent posts by climate-oriented bloggers on the tornado outbreak.”


“Assertions that human-induced climate change could have played a significant role in shaping what unfolded last week run headlong into the overwhelming reality that the fast growth of southern populations vastly overwhelms any theorized contribution from changing climate conditions, Ashley [Walker S. Ashley, a meteorologist at Northern Illinois] said:

In my opinion, a possible global climate change-induced increase of a percent or two here or there in the number of [tornadoes/hurricanes] (enter your favorite hazard here) is orders of magnitude smaller (in terms of a problem) in comparison to vulnerability issues.

I concluded my post

Two Perspectives On Vulnerability – The IPCC view And The Bottom-Up Perspective


“The adoption of the contextual vulnerability approach means that instead of the IPCC global climate models dominating the effort (as with the outcome vulnerability approach), the climate model projections are only one part of the assessment of threats to key social and environmental resources. This is going to be difficult for that community to accept, but it is required if we are to develop more inclusive and scientifically robust assessments of the risk we face in the coming decades.”

 Andy Revkin’s post is an excellent example of the need to develop more inclusive assessments of risk, in this case to tornadoes.

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