Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Disasters: New Study Explores How People Respond

13.01.2011
New results from a Baylor University study show that different behaviors and strategies lead some families to cope better and emerge stronger after a weather-related event.

Dr. Sara Alexander, an applied social anthropologist at Baylor who conducts much of her research in Central America, studied different households in several coastal communities in Belize. While climate change has been an emerging topic of interest to the world community, little scientific data exists on exactly how people respond to different climate-related "shocks" and events such as more intense hurricanes and prolonged drought.

Using a livelihood security approach, Alexander and her team identified vulnerable households in these communities and examined how they adapted and coped with major climate events and shocks such as droughts, hurricanes and floods. The Baylor researchers also developed tools to measure each household's long-term resilience, an area that has not been extensively researched, and identified specific behaviors and strategies that allowed some families to “weather the storm” better than others.

The results indicate:

• Sixty-two percent of vulnerable households made the assertion that chronic weather-related threats such as floods and prolonged drought are a greater concern than “one-off” disasters like hurricanes.

• Perception about climate change and weather patterns played a key role in determining whether a household prepares adequately for a harsh weather event. For instance, 57 percent of households believed that storms today are more intense than they were five to 10 years ago, the household is more likely to prepare when weather forecasters predict threatening weather.

• Vulnerable and more secure households differ in coping strategies when dealing with weather-related events. Forty-nine percent of vulnerable households turn to their faith, 43 percent to their family, and 36 percent turned to their friends for emotional support. Only 19 percent turned to financially-based responses and only 8 percent made attempts to secure credit to gain resources to make repairs rebuild. Households that have the highest levels of security are more likely to use their savings or sell their assets to engage in a financially based response by repairing and rebuilding, many times finding emotional support through this work.

• A critical ingredient for reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience is empowerment of marginalized groups and the associated access to resources.

• Although the capacity of households to adapt to harsh weather is a function of perception of risk and access to resources, resilience of communities depends on the ability of people to think and act collectively.

"The results suggest that both vulnerable and secure households respond to weather-related events, but they do so in different ways," said Alexander, associate professor and chair of the department of anthropology, forensic science and archaeology at Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The results will be published in the journal Climatic Change and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.

Alexander said over the last 150 years, data shows surface temperatures have increased and the associated impacts on biological and physical systems have become more evident. Some of the more notable changes that have gradually occurred are sea level rise, shifts in climatic zones, changes in precipitation patterns and increases in frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events like droughts, floods and storms.

Alexander said she has always maintained that by definition, more vulnerable households are not able to respond as effectively to a natural disaster as those households whose livelihoods are more secure, that is, their capacity for response is influenced by their weakened ability to guard against risk.

Alexander and her team developed a resilience-measuring index for human responses that examined certain long-term security indicators, including economic stability, human health conditions, adult education levels, social connectedness, environmental health, and food and nutrition security. The researchers then tracked those indicators as different weather-related events naturally occurred.

The project was funded through a $235,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Also collaborating on the project as a co-investigator is Dr. Susan Stonich, professor of anthropology and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.baylor.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

nachricht Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Climate change: In their old age, trees still accumulate large quantities of carbon

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

17.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>