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Human Dimensions


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Major Topics:

Overview
Evaluating the Regional Consequences of Climate Variability for Human Systems
Evaluating Society's Ability to Respond to Climate Variability and Change
Developing Policy Options for Enhancing Climate Resilience
Facilitating the Use of Climate Information in Planning and Decision-making

 

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Overview

The human dimensions component of CIG's integrated assessment evaluates the ways in which climate variations affect human society: both direct climate impacts on human socioeconomic systems and indirect impacts via climate's effect on natural systems. Several research efforts are underway to accomplish this evaluation.

 

 

Evaluating the Regional Consequences of Climate Variability for Human Systems

Evaluating whether and how impacts of climate variability are felt by human society requires an analysis of climate impacts on natural systems that accounts for the context of human institutions. The ways humans manage, depend on, and the degree to which they have altered natural systems play a central role in determining whether they are affected by climate impacts on natural systems. The rhythms of climate, which resonate in one way as impacts on natural systems, often sound quite different to humans.

In evaluating the consequences of climate variability for human systems, we find it useful to address the following questions: what social and/or economic factors determine the sensitivity of human systems to climate variability? How successful are the mechanisms developed by humans to buffer themselves from the impacts of climate variations? Do management policies adequately estimate the range in natural climate variability and the impacts such variability will have on managed resources?

 

 

Evaluating Society's Ability to Respond to Climate Variability and Change

Evaluating the capacity of natural resource management systems to respond to climate variability requires an understanding of the legal frameworks that constrain or define resource ownership and use rights, authority relationships, and the right to manage. When several different organizations manage a single natural resource, it is also important to understand how the managing institutions interact. What is the hierarchy among them? Who has the authority to make decisions, and on what basis are those decisions made? How does information flow, and what are the communication capacities within and between organizations? What is the potential for coordinated responses within the group? CIG works to develop an analysis of the institutional organization of resource management systems, in order to describe and evaluate the policy framework that provides the basis for management decisions. Such analysis also enables an identification of the regional resource management agencies and institutions that are most sensitive and vulnerable to climate variability.

 

 

Developing Policy Options for Enhancing Climate Resilience

An evaluation of the potential for human institutions to improve their response to climate variability begins with an assessment of the current use of climate information in management decisions. Much climate information is currently available - many government agencies collect and distribute information about historical climate and climate forecasts - but how much of this information is used? Do managers who make decisions about the future based on how climate has varied in the past accurately estimate the magnitude of natural variability? Are climate forecasts used to assist planning and decision-making processes?

Having developed an understanding of the specific factors that determine the adaptability and flexibility of the current natural resource management systems, CIG works to evaluate the prospects, and suggest specific steps, for improving the use of climate information in management decisions. These analyses will provide a foundation for evaluating the likely capacities of human institutions to prepare for and cope with future climate change.

 

 

Facilitating the Use of Climate Information in Planning and Decision-making

A first requirement for improving society's resilience to fluctuations in climate is to improve its understanding of how climate has varied in the past, how it is likely to vary in the future, the predictability of future climate, and the potential consequences - that is, the relevance - of those variations. As decision-makers learn more about the patterns of climate variability and the predictability of important climate-related changes, they may become more apt to utilize climate forecasts in their decisions and planning. CIG has expended significant effort articulating the implications of climate forecasts for management decisions, and evaluating their current and potential use by regional natural resource managers.

 

   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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