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Confronting climate: linking knowledge, values and decision-making to vulnerability and adaptation in Ireland's coastal cities

Jeffers, J.M (2011) Confronting climate: linking knowledge, values and decision-making to vulnerability and adaptation in Ireland's coastal cities. PhD thesis, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Abstract

In recent years geographers and other social scientists have highlighted several gaps in our understanding of climate change adaptation and decision-making responses to environmental hazards. These have included concerns regarding the use of knowledge in environmental decision-making, the need for more research on the ways in which hazards are conceptualized, framed and understood, and a concern that the high adaptive capacity present in many developed countries will not lead to successful adaptation. Focusing on the cities of Cork, Dublin and Galway this research employed qualitative methods to examine decision-making by local officials, elected representatives and other stakeholders. The research methods used included semi structured interviews with a range of local decision-makers and a content analysis of the minutes of City Council meetings, the records of national parliament debates and available policy documents. The results of this research illustrate that several factors influence local decision-making. The ways in which climate change is framed as a temporal and spatial phenomenon shape the type and timing of adaptation decisions. Discourses of risk and vulnerability are another important influence. Decision-making is heavily influenced by a risk management paradigm that emphasises biophysical risk but does not extensively consider other drivers of vulnerability and resilience. This has led to an understanding of climate impacts that emphasises attempts to prevent hazards through a technological fix, while not exploring alternative strategies. Flood events and flood induced losses are viewed as identical, with the reduction of physical exposure becoming the central policy objective. Perhaps most influential are intersections between economic and environmental change. These have created the material and ideological conditions in which an economic development discourse dominates decision-making and policy. This further reinforces an emphasis on biophysical risk as hazard events are viewed as disruptions to the economic life of the city that must be prevented. These results suggest that current policy and practice may ultimately fail to reduce vulnerability and that there is a need for a more holistic understanding of climate hazards that draws on knowledge from the social and natural sciences to integrate strategies for vulnerability reduction into local policy and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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Keywords: Geography, Climatic changes--Ireland, Climatic changes—Government policy--Ireland, Ireland--Cork--Politics and government, Ireland--Dublin--Politics and government, Ireland--Galway--Politics and government
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2015 17:42
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 14:11
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/5508
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