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Qualitative Assessment of Climate Change in Georgia: Comparing Ethnographic Research on Social Vulnerability with Social Indicator-based Approaches Sarah.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Assessment of Climate Change in Georgia: Comparing Ethnographic Research on Social Vulnerability with Social Indicator-based Approaches Sarah."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Assessment of Climate Change in Georgia: Comparing Ethnographic Research on Social Vulnerability with Social Indicator-based Approaches Sarah Hitchner (UGA) Cassandra Johnson Gaither (USFS) John Schelhas (UFS) Peter Brosius (UGA) 8 November 2011

2 Project description Project objectives and goals Methods and research activities Project status Current challenges

3 Project Description Public perceptions, understandings, and interpretations of the concept of climate change in Georgia Current research on the intersection of climate change indicators with measures of social vulnerability County-level maps of areas susceptible to projected climate changes using climate (temperature and precipitation) data and census-based indicators of social vulnerability Comparison of perceptions of climate change in urban and rural areas in Georgia Comparative ethnographic analysis to determine the range and influence of various vulnerability and resilience indicators in different areas Integration and comparison of qualitative and quantitative methodologies

4 Project Objectives and Goals Objective 1: Qualitative Assessment of Climate Change in Georgia – Perceptions of climate change in socially vulnerable communities – Identification of aspects of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity not captured by aggregate-level indicators of vulnerability – Comparison of perceptions in urban and rural communities Objective 2: Integrating Ethnographic Research on Social Vulnerability with Social Indicator-based Approaches – Using ethnographic methods to further refine indicator-based approaches

5 Mapping and Site Selection (Marshall Shepherd and Binita KC, UGA Department of Geography) GIS methodology Variables used to map social vulnerability – Race: African American and Hispanic – Age: below 5 and over 65 – Education: lack of bachelor degree – Land-based livelihood (agriculture, forestry, fishery, mining) – Household types (female-headed household, family with divorced and widowed women) – Poverty: below poverty line – Inmate population and population in group quarters

6 Identify counties with urban > 50% population= urban counties Identify counties with urban <= 50% population=rural counties convert to raster with SOVI (common variable) as attribute zscore of temp for each urban county Z 1950 =x µ Sd zscore of pcp for each urban county Z 1950 =x µ Sd zscore of pcp for each rural county Z 1950 =x µ Sd combine T and P =T+1/2 P= E zscore of temp for each rural county Z 1950 =x µ Sd combine T and P =1/2 T+ P=E E= precipitation and temperature SOVI=Social Vulnerability Index n= no of principle components Append to merge urban and rural counties each having certain degree of exposure Final vulnerability map of Georgia Absolute value of exposure taken so that both extremes (negative and positive z score) increase vulnerability Binita KC and Marshall Shepherd, UGA (2011)

7 Georgia County Map maps.com/county-map/georgia.shtml

8 Climate variability (Temperature & Precipitation) Binita KC and Marshall Shepherd, UGA (2011)

9 Social Vulnerability Index Binita KC and Marshall Shepherd, UGA (2011)

10 Combined Map: Social Vulnerability and Climate (Temp. & Precipitation) Binita KC and Marshall Shepherd, UGA (2011)

11 Urban Sites: Fulton and Hall Counties Fulton County: – Center-city adjacent neighborhoods of English Avenue and Vine City in Atlanta – Predominantly African American – High crime rate Hall County: – Hispanic community in Gainesville (more geographically concentrated than in metro or center- city Atlanta)

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13 Rural Site: Jasper County, GA Binita KC and Marshall Shepherd, UGA (2011)

14 Urban and Rural Vulnerability Urban – High population in densely built environments (heat islands, runoff, storms) – Health: poor quality or inadequate food, poor water and air quality, disease vectors – Gaps in wealth distribution; political and economic marginalization – Poverty increases vulnerability to heat and cold – Poor more affected by water scarcity – Poor communities in hazardous areas – Coastal cities at risk from sea level rise (especially with loss of wetlands) Rural – Resource-dependent livelihoods heavily influenced by climate – Complex effects of climate change on crops, trees, livestock, and ecosystems – Rising or falling temperatures may require new crops – Different rainfall patterns (water stress, flooding, erosion, sedimentation) – Increased growth of weeds – Changes in nutritional content of crops and forage (affects people and livestock) – Decreased effectiveness of pesticides (e.g. pine beetles)

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16 Forests and Trees in Urban and Rural Georgia Communities English Avenue/Vine City Pleasant memories and perceptions of the neighborhoods Link between trees, history, and identity Canopy cover as heat mitigation Trees trap pollution in air and water People there want more trees, especially fruit trees Jasper County Large economic base of agriculture and forestry activities Current state of forestry: pulp and paper, sawtimber, etc. (biofuels industries) People want more markets for forest products Adjacent to Oconee National Forest

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18 Research Methods and Activities Background research on social vulnerability, climate change, and our selected field sites Analysis of discourses and narratives on climate change in various media (scientific and lay) Preliminary and ongoing informal site visits and participant observation in fieldsites Identification of projects and/or research results that will benefit the communities Oral histories of long-term community residents Loosely structured interviews and focus groups in local communities Content analysis of transcripts using a grounded theory approach Work with community leaders to identify ways to reduce vulnerability and increase capacity to respond to climate change

19 Informal Site Visits and Participant Observation Engage with key community leaders – English Avenue/Vine City: “Able” Mable Thomas – Jasper County: Lucy Ray, Extension Agent Attend community events – Neighborhood clean-up day in English Avenue/Vine City – High altitude climate balloon launch and STEM training – Attend local church services and community festivals or public events

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21 Interviews and Focus Groups Interview Questions – Ideas about community (history, social cohesiveness, social networks, challenges and opportunities. – Perceptions of their own vulnerability (individual, household, community) – Observations of recent weather events or changes – Ideas about climate change (understandings, feelings, perceived impacts, sources of information) – Different ways of talking about and responding to climate change Methodological Notes – We plan to ask open-ended, broad questions, and keep interview style flexible and responsive. – We plan to pre-test these questions in Athens, GA before beginning interviews in our fieldsites. – Interviews with Hispanic community members will be conducted in Spanish; others will be in English.

22 Presenting Climate Change Projections to Interviewees Past and current climate variability and change Projected county-level future climate changes Difficulties in communicating the complexity of various climate models Does presenting scientific information taint the results? Can it be considered a way to “give back” to the community?

23 Ethnographic Challenges How to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in places where we don’t reside? (Expanded notion of ethnographic fieldwork) What constitutes a “community”? Who speaks for the community? How to be inclusive, transparent, and relevant to the local community? How to appropriately compensate participants and /or “give back” to communities”? Acknowledging the potential baggage of the term “vulnerability” Acknowledging the uncertainty of the climate models at a downscaled, county level Determining relative importance of various indicators in determining social vulnerability in these field sites Identifying mechanisms that result in resilience and adaptive capacity Predicting future vulnerability and adaptive capacity in these communities

24 Thank you. Questions? Answers?


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