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Which areas will become uninhabitable due to climate change?The climate model alone cannot say


Which areas will become uninhabitable due to climate change?The climate model alone cannot say

Radley Horton and Alex de Shelbinen
|June 17, 2021

The Somali family left their village after the drought killed most of their livestock. As climate change has exacerbated droughts and food shortages in some areas, many people may be forced to leave their homes. However, the decision to migrate or not depends on many factors that cannot be captured in climate models. photo: Oxfam East Africa

Scientists often rely on global climate models and advanced data to predict which areas of the world will face floods, droughts, and other difficulties in the future. We use these models to convey the urgency of climate change and to get a rough idea of ​​which areas may be high-risk “hot spots” and therefore may be uninhabitable in the future.However, as we are 2019 Management Retreat Conference At Columbia University’s Earth Institute, this approach is not always popular with communities at risk.The top-down modeling approach helps Climate determinism This minimizes the potential for human ingenuity to find creative and locally appropriate solutions. In communities suffering from red lines and racist land grabs, prioritizing possible future climate impacts may also become deaf.

in a New Science ReviewWe believe that the typical “top-down” approach of climate modelers should be combined with the “bottom-up” approach, involving communities, collecting local data, and evaluating solutions. This joint strategy is essential to help communities build resilience and adapt to climate change, and will be part of the discussion at the conference. Upcoming management retreat meeting From June 22nd to 25th, we helped organize.

The “top-down” approach has its advantages. It is relatively easy to run with multiple models to generate global or regional maps that convey important information about the distribution and severity of threats. These models also allow comparisons between different regions and can reveal large-scale trends and interconnected characteristics of the global system. However, their broader scope ignores the factors that trigger disasters on a local scale, and ignores the characteristics of the local population—such as health, socioeconomic status, historical background, and culture—that may affect exposure and vulnerability.

For example, the prediction of sea level rise can be combined with an elevation model to estimate that coastal flooding may affect 3.10 and 630 million people Around the world by 2100. However, the threat to infrastructure and the risk of contaminating wells with rising sea levels depend on other factors, such as local geography. In addition, different communities vary in the ease of evacuation, the availability of flood control measures, and the exposure to coastal storms. Factors such as the degree of injustice, the strength of governance and social networks, and the quality of infrastructure are also critical to determining whether a particular area can still survive. Therefore, the top-down approach cannot define a single coastal flood threshold that applies to every community.

By definition, bottom-up evaluation provides more detailed data. These methods can involve various stakeholders in generating qualitative data and exploring high-impact scenarios and local solutions that are missed by the top-down approach. These methods can explain how people react to changing environmental conditions—loss of assets and livelihood opportunities, changes in insurance premiums, threats to life, and changing social network structures. In fact, this social tipping point may be more predictive of when communities will retreat than top-down geophysical modeling results.The involvement of the community also enables them to take action instead of showing a sense of inevitable and hopelessness, which can make individuals resist cooperation or cooperate with local authorities to reduce risk and Build flexibility.

However, to date, most areas have not yet conducted such comprehensive livability assessments. In addition, the particularity of the bottom-up approach makes it difficult to compare across regions and groups, and it is also difficult to apply lessons and solutions from one field to another.

The solution is to meet in the middle-by creating a holistic, human-centered approach that combines models, data aggregation, and ethnographic work. We should use top-down livability assessments to determine the groups and regions that should be prioritized for bottom-up work.As for Climate justiceMany semi-arid regions, most tropical regions, and some low-lying deltas and islands should be a high priority for this combined approach, because many of the most vulnerable populations are those who have the least resources to deal with climate change, and who are The contribution of emissions is minimal.

We must formulate policies to determine the most feasible local adaptation options across different regions and groups, rather than deterministic and one-size-fits-all options. This mid-level strategy also avoids ultra-local solutions that cannot be applied to other communities, which are costly and time-consuming to develop.

Some organizations, such as Northeast Cities Climate Risk AllianceAs part of NOAA’s regional comprehensive science and assessment program, it has worked to bridge the gap between top-down research and community-led programs. The work of the organization is to conduct research around the needs of the community through consultation, long-term participation, and joint knowledge generation.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), national efforts and institutions, such as the recently developed Columbia Climate School It can also provide the innovative and interdisciplinary approaches needed to further develop this promising intermediate space between top-down and bottom-up approaches.

Only by adding these methods can we avoid climate determinism and despair, and instead implement active adaptation and immigration policies to reduce the damage caused by climate change and save lives.

June 22-25, Manage retreat meetings Hosted by the Columbia Institute of Climatology and the Earth Institute, it will bring together scholars and community members to discuss moving communities away from the growing climate hazards.Buy tickets Here.




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