Promoting climate change awareness and adaptive planning in communities
through mediated modeling

Abstract

Local decision makers acknowledge a need to better understand how their communities are vulnerable to climate change stressors.  We have employed social science knowledge of hazard management, vulnerability analysis, and deliberation to develop a process for participatory characterization of community vulnerability. Our method, called VCAPS - Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptive Planning Scenarios Process, is a form of mediated modeling that organizes expert and local knowledge to accurately capture vulnerability characteristics of the complex, dynamic human-environmental system of coastal communities.  VCAPS highlights causal connections and feedbacks and summarizes this information in visually effective influence diagrams that convey how hazards intervene in a community and produce negative consequences. We have applied this approach in five communities along the US East Coast. Participants reported that the process facilitated individual learning and group deliberation and group learning, inspired decision-makers to plan for climate change, and improved understanding of the factors that affect vulnerability and the ability of their community to adapt.

Speaker: Thomas Webler.
Collaborating Researchers: Seth Tuler, Kirstin Dow, Jessica Whitehead, Esperanza Stancioff

This research has been funded by NOAA's SARP program, Massachusetts MIT Sea Grant, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, and NOAA's COCA program.