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Monday, November 9, 2009

Climate Vulnerability in America's Southeast

OXFAM USA has developed an analysis of social vulnerability to climate change for the southeast United States. The analysis draws upon Susan Cutter et al.'s work on the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) and intersects this metric with disaster statistics for the Southeast to visualise vulnerability geographically.

As the analysis relies upon secondary data, it's more an analysis of past and/or present climate vulnerability as opposed to future climate change, but the results are likely relevant to the future to the extent that the geographic distribution of demographic characteristics and climate risk remains static.

The report makes only a few generic recommendations regarding what to do about such vulnerability, the first being reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. However, given the entire analysis is based upon combining metrics of social vulnerability (independent of climate) with metrics of exposure to historical climate hazards (i.e., climate variability), mitigation is unlikely to have any impact on the estimates of vulnerability. However, the report also mentions adaptation actions around building community resilience, bolstering emergency management efforts and retrofitting of buildings and infrastructure.

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