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Cross-cultural approaches to understanding the emotional geographies of climate change

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Climate change poses a threat to the emotional well-being and livelihood strategies of individuals in biophysically vulnerable communities. While the biophysical effects and possibilities of climate change are well-documented, understanding

Climate change poses a threat to the emotional well-being and livelihood strategies of individuals in biophysically vulnerable communities. While the biophysical effects and possibilities of climate change are well-documented, understanding the emotional impacts on individuals in these communities is an avenue of research that requires more exploration. Using an ethnographic approach, this study analyzes the emotional responses of individuals, first in three biophysically vulnerable communities in the United States, and second, in island communities. Study sites in the United States include Mobile, Alabama; Kodiak, Alaska; and Phoenix, Arizona, each of which have different vulnerabilities to the effects of climate change. Internationally, we conducted research in Viti Levu, Fiji; Nicosia, Cyprus; Wellington, New Zealand; and London, England. Using the 2014 Global Ethnohydrology Study Protocol respondents were asked about their emotional responses to the current effects of climate change, the effects of climate change on livelihoods in their area, and the effects of climate change on the younger generation. Using cross-cultural data allows for a broader understanding of emotional distress and wellbeing in response to climate change in areas with similar expected climate change outcomes, although with different levels of biophysical vulnerability, as well as understanding emotional distress and wellbeing in areas with different expected climate change outcomes, and similar levels of biophysical vulnerability. Results from this research can be used to understand possible mental health outcomes, the possibilities for political activism, and how to create mitigation strategies that resonate with local community members.

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  • 2017

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Managing land, water, and vulnerability on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

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The manner in which land and water are used and managed is a major influencing factor of global environmental change. Globally, modifications to the landscape have drastically transformed social and

The manner in which land and water are used and managed is a major influencing factor of global environmental change. Globally, modifications to the landscape have drastically transformed social and ecological communities. Land and water management practices also influences people's vulnerability to hazards. Other interrelated factors are compounding problems of environmental change as a result of land and water use changes. Such factors include climate change, sea level rise, the frequency and severity of hurricanes, and increased populations in coastal regions. The implication of global climate change for small islands and small island communities is especially troublesome. Socially, small islands have a limited resource base, deal with varying degrees of insularity, generally have little political power, and have limited economic opportunities. The physical attributes of small islands also increase their vulnerability to global climate change, including limited land area, limited fresh water supplies, and greater distances to resources. The focus of this research project is to document place-specific - and in this case island-specific - human-environmental interactions from a political ecology perspective as a means to address local concerns and possible consequences of global environmental change. The place in which these interactions are examined is the barrier island and village of Ocracoke, North Carolina. I focus on the specific historical-geography of land and water management on Ocracoke as a means to examine relationships between local human-environmental interactions and environmental change.

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  • 2014