Risks related to climate change are unevenly distributed. The global climate change therefore results in new patterns of regional migration, political unrest, economic vulnerability, shifting resource bases, and a profound sense of risk affecting everyday life in many parts of the world. The aim of the research project is to explore how people deal with such uncertainty. Through detailed anthropological studies of distinct localities and strategies of protection, the project seeks to enhance the general understanding of living in an environment at risk. This is urgent in the interest of understanding how far the social capacity for adaptation may be stretched in times of pending environmental disaster. It is also pertinent with respect to basic issues of local food security that may all too easily transform into problems of international security. In the process we may identify thresholds of flexibility.
For the project to enable a meaningful comparison of how people deal with disaster, the cases chosen are all related directly to environmental issues and are of the same scale:
- The melting ice in the Arctic and in glacier-covered mountains elsewhere threatens age-old ways of living and moving within the landscape;
- The rising seas, potentially flooding islands and coastal communities, and correlated with an intensified cyclone activity;
- The drying lands in already arid regions entail hunger, displacement of people and political instability that transform global disaster to local humanitarian catastrophe.