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Culture a Victim of Climate Change for Some, Report Warns

Oct 25, 2013 03:41 PM EDT
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Current mitigation and adaptation efforts are not enough for vulnerable communities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to withstand the effects of climate change, a first-ever look at empirical evidence of loss and damage in nine affected nations reveals.

Published in the International Journal of Global Warming, the series of reports examin how climatic stressors affect communities and the actions taken in response to them in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Kenya, Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal. The report also looked at the consequences when native populations are unable to adjust sufficiently.

In all, more than 3,000 households were surveyed and more than 300 focus groups and experts interviewed. The results pointed to four main cases in which the residual impacts of climate stressors persist. These include when existing coping and adaptation measures to biophysical impacts fall short, when those measures have costs -- including economic costs -- that cannot be regained, when the measure have long-term negative effects and when no measures are adopted.

"The special issue of the International Journal of Global Warming focuses on a crucial topic: 'Loss and damage' which refers to adverse effects of climate variability and climate change that occur despite mitigation and adaptation efforts," Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Dincer of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology said.

The researchers uncovered significant limits to adaptation as well as damage around barriers and limits. These included growing food, livelihood insecurity, unreliable water supplies and deteriorating human health, among other things. Overall effects included negative impacts on not only people's welfare and health, but culture and identify as well.

The findings come on the heels of the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which cited a 95 percent certainty that humans are the "dominant cause" behind global warming since the 1950s.

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