Underestimating, Overlooking and Misunderstanding the Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change

A new research paper has shed light on an interesting aspect of the climate change battle, voicing concerns that the impact of climate change on cultural life is not being sufficiently accounted for by scientists and policy makers as they attempt to inform the public about the dangers climate change may bring.

Cultural Relevance Vital to Understanding Danger of Climate Change

The research was led by scientists from the University of Exeter and published in the journal Nature Climate Change, and showed that cultural factors are key to making climate change real to people.

“Governments have not yet addressed the cultural losses we are all facing as a result of global climate change and this could have catastrophic consequences,” Lead researcher Professor Neil Adger of the University of Exeter said. “If the cultural dimensions of climate change continue to be ignored, it is likely that responses will fail to be effective because they simply do not connect with what matters to individuals and communities. It is vital that the cultural impact of climate change is considered, alongside plans to adapt our physical spaces to the changing environment.”

The paper argues that programs aimed at dealing with the consequences of climate change and publicising the threat do not focus on what actually matters to people: from locations people like to visit for fun such as beaches and snow resorts to iconic natural spaces all the way through to traditional methods of agriculture and construction; these are aspects that need to be first understood and then promoted.

“The evidence is clear; when people experience the impacts of climate change in places that matter to them, the problems become real and they are motivated to make their futures more sustainable,” added Professor Katrina Brown from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. “This is as true in coastal Cornwall as in Pacific Islands.”

Source: University of Exeter via EurekAlert!
Image Source: Tavis Ford on Flickr

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