Adapting to Variability Before Change, An analysis of preexisting adaptation strategies for climate variability through a socioecological resilience framework: The Case of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Report / Paper

Adapting to Variability Before Change, An analysis of preexisting adaptation strategies for climate variability through a socioecological resilience framework: The Case of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

PUBLISHED DATE

October 2011

RESOURCE

Instead of identifying climate change adaptation strategies that will best fortify against projected impacts, this paper suggests that adapting to climate variability can be used as a strategy to deal with the threat of climate change. Adjustment to climate variability is a longstanding practice for the human species. For as long as the low-lying islands of the Pacific have been inhabited, communities have been exposed to regularly fluctuating sea levels of up to 0.5 meters, patterns which are greatly influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation. If anthropogenic climate change acts in addition to natural climate variability, the resultant extremes could be devastating, and the combination threatens to make these islands uninhabitable. With the mounting discourse on adaptation to climate change, a socio-ecological resilience framework can assist stakeholders in deciding which adaptation strategies to choose.As a case study, this paper surveys several adaptation strategies used by the Republic of the Marshall Islands to adapt to natural climate variability. Using a socio-ecological resilience framework, this paper selects certain strategies that can foster adaptation to a variable climate system. It posits that conceptualizing the climate system as intrinsically chaotic rather than equilibrating can reduce the potential for maladaptative fortification projects.