Community Work in a Climate of Adaptation

Project team members Loring, Gerlach, and Penn have a new publication in Human Ecology available. The paper can be obtained here or by sending Dr. Loring an email for a personal copy if you do not have access to this journal. 

An excerpt of the article follows below. You can also read more from Dr. Loring on the importance of the article here.

Ultimately, scientists and policymakers who work in the area of climate change seek to provide a science-based framework for decision-making and development, and adaptation and its related concepts have proven effective as a shared language. Many researchers have highlighted the various caveats and pitfalls of this vocabulary however. As one way to address these issues, we offer community work as a concept that, when paired with adaptation, more accurately represents of how people and societies experience and respond to change than the concept of adaptation alone. Community work avoids the implications of environmental determinism and victimization that presently muddle the discussion and contribute little to our understanding of how local people and communities cope with local problems, which is often from the bottom up and too often with limited human and financial capital. With a more robust theoretical understanding of human behavior that incorporates people’s values and intentions for both stability and change, venues for supporting communities that do not fall into the developer’s trap or issues of social justice noted above become possible. It has been argued that the best first step for addressing climate change impacts on communities is to fix existing problems that have ready solutions, such as food and water security and failing infrastructure (Gerlach et al. 2011). The perspective argued here requires only that policymakers reorient their attention toward these community goals, helping people to solve existing and future problems on their own terms and regardless of whether these initiatives map in clear-cut ways to state prescribed and sanctioned modes of development. 
Posted on December 21, 2015 .