The best way to fight climate change? Don’t call it climate change.
American cities from Boston to Baton Rouge are getting hammered by hurricanes, torrential downpours, and blizzards amped up by climate change. Maybe that’s why Americans are coming around to the idea that the climate is actually changing. But are all the floods, heat waves, and other disasters spurring cities to prepare for our overheated future?
Sabrina McCormick, a sociologist at George Washington University who once investigated how cities cope with disasters for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, set out earlier this year to find out. Her study, recently published in the journal Climatic Change, breaks down 65 in-depth interviews with city officials and experts in six cities — Portland, Boston, Los Angeles, Raleigh, Tucson, and Tampa. It seeks to answer the etiquette question from hell: How does a city go about preparing for something that its residents would rather not think about, or even believe in?
In a recent interview, McCormick said she learned that many city officials believe the key to getting everybody on board to battle climate change is to avoid uttering the words “climate change.” It’s “a poisonous term to use,” one said. …
The study referenced by the Grist article;
Localized vulnerability assessments are critical to effective climate adaptation. However, the differences between how local decision-makers and experts see vulnerability have not yet been fully explored, especially in the United States. Seeing possible distinctions between these approaches is critical since it is necessary to ensure a comprehensive, accountable approach. This research explores the distinct approach of local stakeholders to conceptualizing climate vulnerability in six American cities. Sixty-five interviews of cross-sectoral local stakeholders were conducted in: Boston (MA), Los Angeles (CA), Portland (OR), Raleigh (NC), and Tampa (FL). Findings demonstrate that conceptualizations of vulnerability are affected by intellectual frameworks that tend to orient around infrastructure and human health; that retrospective and prospective thinking are inter-related and affect one another; and that institutionalized forms and biases are critical. These factors shape the way that vulnerability is conceived differently than traditional expert frameworks.
Read more (paywalled): http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-016-1757-3
I’m not sure how McCormick reconciles “an accountable approach” with not mentioning that proposed public works projects are part of a climate agenda. Perhaps accountability means something different to sociologists.