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University of Bergen (2008)

Climate and society. A complex and conditional relationship

Meze-Hausken, Elisabeth

Titre : Climate and society. A complex and conditional relationship

Auteur : Meze-Hausken, Elisabeth

Université de soutenance : University of Bergen

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis 2008

Résumé
Too little rainfall causes human adaptation problems. Too much rainfall as well. The same is valid for temperature. What makes people vulnerable to climate and what impacts can climate cause on society ? Where lies the border of what is still acceptable and what not ? When do people change their habits and where is intervention needed ? What role do people’s perceptions about climate play ? And can we draw conclusions from one region or time-period to another ? This thesis is a contribution to the literature on climate and society linkages. With case-studies from Ethiopia and Norway as well as a literature review from many other regions, it provides empirical evidence of the complexity of the climate-society relationship. It describes the difficulties associated with deterministic approaches to understanding and predicting the human impacts of climate extremes and climate change. Several aspects are covered : Paper 1 elaborates the issue of climate vulnerability and discusses the problem of how to distinguish between climate as a trigger or just one out of many influence factors for a specific human response such as migration. The case-study is directed towards dryland regions and Ethiopia. In Paper 2, again focusing on Ethiopia, the divergence between climate perceptions and climate measurements is taken up. By explaining the possible origin of the low correlation between them, the importance of other environmental and social variables becomes evident. Paper 3 attempts to attach meteorological data to weather narratives in the media and by this annotating what makes up a good and bad weather day in Europe’s rainiest city, Bergen, Norway. The data suggest that it is supply and demand of specific weather events which influence people’s perceptions of attaching positive or negative features to it. The importance of the seasonal occurrence of weather events is revealed. By exploring human climate thresholds, Paper 4 draws on empirical results of a literature review. By presenting a stimulus-response model, it describes climate’s influence on the human body and on human perceptions, which determine jointly when and where climate can trigger and influence certain human activities. Paper 5 is turning back to experiences from Ethiopia, from a combined climate statistics and financial-economic perspective. It investigates the subject of climate micro-insurance as a possible adaptation to climate extremes and change from the perspective of an insurance provider. The issue of climate risk pooling as well as making use of non-covariate spatial climate behaviour for reducing necessary risk capital is addressed. But as we are all different, people do not necessarily respond to the same climate stimulus in the same way. Culture, technology and physiological adaptation contribute their part in influencing human well-being and in setting limits to society, for example of where to live, what impacts to expect and what decisions to take.

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Page publiée le 5 septembre 2010, mise à jour le 25 janvier 2019