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Understanding Adaptation Behavior at Local Levels: How do People Adapt to Climate Change?

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group, Rural Geography Specialty Group, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 9
Organizers: Alexandra Paige Fischer, Riva Denny
Chairs: Riva Denny


Understanding climate change adaptation at local levels is important because actions taken by individuals, households and other small groups directly shape environmental conditions that create risks and opportunities. In aggregation, people’s decisions regarding management of their immediate environments will determine how society more broadly copes with or adapts to climate change. Understanding the process through which people adapt to climate change is important for designing policies that seek to shape human behavior to reduce exposure and sensitivity, and increase well-being. However, studying how people adapt is a challenge, in part because climate impacts occur on scales that are difficult for humans to perceive and respond to (Reser, 2011). Moreover, under conditions of great uncertainty and complexity, as with climate change, people may behave suitability for their immediate social and environmental circumstances yet irrationally in economic terms (Klein, 2003). Distinguishing adaptation from other types of responses can also be challenging because behavior can be adaptive or maladaptive depending on the scale and the outcome (Adger et al., 2005). Despite a wealth of theories and frameworks for characterizing adaptation (Bassett & Fogelman, 2013; Birkmann, 2011; Fankhauser et al., 1999; Klein, 2003; Smit et al., 2000), much research and theory focuses on adaptation at municipal, regional, national or institutional levels (Berrang-Ford et al., 2011). A comprehensive framework for evaluating and explaining adapation behavior at the level of individuals, households and other small groups is still in need of development (Berrang-Ford et al., 2011).

This organized paper session aims to bring researchers from diverse geographic areas and fields together to share current work on adaptation to climate change at local levels. Submissions that report on empirical research, literature syntheses and conceptual frameworks are all encouraged, especially presentations that focus on:

· Typologies and classifications of behavioral responses

· Socio-cognitive and structural influences on adaptation

· Feedbacks between human behaviors and environmental conditions

· Approaches for evaluating the adaptiveness of behavioral responses

· Scale mismatch due to fragmented and heterogeneous decision-making

· Conflicts between short-term best interests and longer range sustainability


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Riva Denny*, University of Michigan, Paige Fischer, University of Michigan, Behavioral adaptation to climate change: Risk experience and risk appraisal in the context of managed forests 15 9:35 AM
Presenter Rebecca Nixon*, Purdue University, Jason K. Hawes, University of Michigan, Zhao Ma, Purdue University, Bushra Khan, University of Peshawar, Value tradeoffs in adaptation decision-making 15 9:50 AM
Presenter Jason Hawes*, University of Michigan, Zhao Ma, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, Morey Burnham, Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Social Work, Idaho State University, Rebecca Nixon, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, Adaptation across contexts: Value tradeoffs as a lens for learning from adaptation 15 10:05 AM
Presenter Peter D. Howe*, Utah State University, Brittany S. Shield, Utah State University, Modeling perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors related to climate change adaptation at the local level 15 10:20 AM

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