For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Climate of Change Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Unit 6 Reading: Adaptation and Mitigation
In this unit you will investigate attitudes about climate change and distinguish between climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation strategies. We will consider several examples of climate change adaptation strategies utilized in either the United States or other countries.
Public views about the potential risks and remedies for climate change can vary considerably among Americans. The Yale Project on Climate Change has identified six groups of Americans based on their attitudes and beliefs related to climate change. Common demographic variables such as age, gender, race, or income do not appear to be significant in determining membership of the six groups. The relative proportion of members in each group can change with time. (You can take an online survey to determine which group you belong to at: http://uw.kqed.org/climatesurvey/index-kqed.php. A survey, "What's your climate change personality?" should come up on the screen. You may take the survey using this website or using Facebook.)
The six groups and the characteristics of their members are:
- Alarmed: People in this category are absolutely convinced that climate change is a real phenomenon that is happening now, is being caused by humans, and poses a serious threat. "Alarmed" people are already taking action in their own lives to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and are concerned about which steps they should take next.
- Concerned: People in this category believe that climate change is a real phenomenon, is being caused by humans, and is a serious problem. However, "concerned" people believe that climate change is a distant problem, rather than a current one. They have not become personally involved with the issue of global climate change by taking steps in their lives to reduce their emissions.
- Cautious: People in this category are not sure whether or not climate change is a real phenomenon and are not sure whether climate change is natural or human caused. "Cautious" people are not particularly focused on the issue of climate change at this time.
- Disengaged: People in this category have heard of climate change but do not know anything about the causes, impacts, or potential solutions.
- Doubtful: People in this category are not really sure that climate change is happening, but if it is happening, they believe that climate change is natural, is not a problem or much of a risk, and will not impact humans.
- Dismissive: People in this category do not believe that climate change is happening and consider the concept of climate change to be a hoax or conspiracy.
An analysis of six America's survey results in 2012 yielded 45% of respondents in the Alarmed and Concerned categories, and 30% of survey participants as Disengaged, Doubtful, and Dismissive categories. Most survey respondents suspect that global warming is happening or will happen in the relatively near future. Most scientists consider climate change as an environmental hazard. What will be the consequences of such climate changes on us as individuals or as members of our communities? To decipher the answer to such questions, we must determine the vulnerability as measured as the potential for loss of life or property damage from environmental hazards. The Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute studies the concept of social vulnerability, which is determined by considering the "social, economic, demographic, and housing characteristics that affect a community's ability to respond to, cope with, recover from, and adapt to environmental hazards." The degree of risk is greater for communities with vulnerable populations (e.g., low income/high unemployment, larger than average numbers of elderly people and young children, more renters and mobile home owners). By assessing the social vulnerability of a community we can determine which locations may need more attention to counter the effects of future environmental hazards associated with climate change (See the website: Social Vulnerability in the USA for a US map depicting counties with lowest and highest social vulnerability).
In class, we discuss several examples of climate change adaptation strategies from the United States and other countries, including adaptions by the insurance industry, and ways of adapting to extreme heat or vulnerability to flood. Take some time to review those adaptations and consider the impacts climate adaptations or mitigations can have on vulnerability to climate change.