Translating Climate Change Impacts at the Community Level

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"It is well recognized that climate change will have considerable impact on the physical landscapes of northern Canada. How these impacts will be transmitted to the level of human activity is not clear, but it needs to be understood by governments and other decision makers to help them identify and implement appropriate approaches to ameliorate the effects of climate change. Translating physical changes into human impacts is not a simple task; communities are not passive players that will respond to changes in the physical environment in easily predictable ways. While many prognoses about change are made on a large scale, human activity is highly localized, and impacts and responses will be conditioned by local geography and a range of endogenous factors, including demographic trends, economic complexity, and experience with change in a broad sense. More and more studies are yielding important information about community-level experience, both past and current, with environmental shifts in the North, but research effort by social scientists falls short of what is required to reduce the level of uncertainty, and it compares unfavourably with the physical sciences dedication to the climate change problem. A pan-northern research effort, building on a long legacy of social science research in the North, would go some way towards translating the promise of change into probable community impacts."



climate change, community, ecology, land tenure and use, traditional knowledge, uncertainty