The dangers of disaster-driven responses to climate change

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Jun 11, 2018
Author: 
Sarah E. Anderson, Ryan R. Bart, Maureen C. Kennedy, Andrew J. MacDonald, Max A. Moritz, Andrew J. Plantinga, Christina L. Tague and Matthew Wibbenmeyer

 

Low-probability, high-consequence climate change events are likely to trigger management responses that are based on the demand for immediate action from those affected. However, these responses may be inefficient and even maladaptive in the long term.

Climate change has impacted physical, biological and human systems, and many of its effects are expected to increase in severity and magnitude in coming decades1. Some changes will happen gradually, such as sea-level rise and shifts in species ranges. Other impacts, such as floods, fires and disease outbreaks, are acute, low-probability events with widespread consequences. In light of recent social science research on the role of salience in decision-making, we argue that although the risk of episodic high-impact events can motivate planned adaptation, it is the occurrence of events that often leads to action.Climate change has impacted physical, biological and human systems, and many of its effects are expected to increase in severity and magnitude in coming decades1. Some changes will happen gradually, such as sea-level rise and shifts in species ranges. Other impacts, such as floods, fires and disease outbreaks, are acute, low-probability events with widespread consequences. In light of recent social science research on the role of salience in decision-making, we argue that although the risk of episodic high-impact events can motivate planned adaptation, it is the occurrence of events that often leads to action.Low-probability, high-consequence climate change events are likely to trigger management responses that are based on the demand for immediate action from those affected. However, these responses may be inefficient and even maladaptive in the long term.limate change has impacted physical,
biological and human systems, and
many of its effects are expected to
increase in severity and magnitude in
coming decades
1
. Some changes will happen
gradually, such as sea-level rise and shifts
in species ranges. Other impacts, such as
floods, fires and disease outbreaks, are acute,
low-probability events with widespread
consequences. In light of recent social science
research on the role of salience in decision-
making, we argue that although the risk of
episodic high-impact events can motivate
planned adaptation, it is the occurrence of
events that often leads to action.
limate change has impacted physical,
biological and human systems, and
many of its effects are expected to
increase in severity and magnitude in
coming decades
1
. Some changes will happen
gradually, such as sea-level rise and shifts
in species ranges. Other impacts, such as
floods, fires and disease outbreaks, are acute,
low-probability events with widespread
consequences. In light of recent social science
research on the role of salience in decision-
making, we argue that although the risk of
episodic high-impact events can motivate
planned adaptation, it is the occurrence of
events that often leads to action.

Climate change has impacted physical, biological and human systems, and many of its effects are expected to increase in severity and magnitude in coming decades1. Some changes will happen gradually, such as sea-level rise and shifts in species ranges. Other impacts, such as floods, fires and disease outbreaks, are acute, low-probability events with widespread consequences. In light of recent social science research on the role of salience in decision-making, we argue that although the risk of episodic high-impact events can motivate planned adaptation, it is the occurrence of events that often leads to action.

Read the full commentary in Nature Climate Change.

Associated Project: 
DOI for citing: 
https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0208-8
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