Climate Risk Management
School of Science
Australian Research Council
Climate change puts at risk what people value in their everyday lives, with evidence of harm and suffering already taking place across all regions of the world. As societies slowly come to grips with the possibility of not being able to save everything that is valued, there is an urgent need to identify what is most important for individuals and groups, to prioritise action and prevent or minimise intolerable losses. Yet, people's priorities vary greatly; individual choices are contingent on what people hold dear in the places they inhabit, which in turn is shaped by their positioning in society and everyday experiences with harm and loss. In this article, we draw on recent epistemological and ontological engagements with climate adaptation and loss from the social sciences to examine how individuals consider their options to protect what they value most in the face of climatic impacts. Drawing on 80+ interviews with residents along an urban–rural transect in Western Australia, we first demonstrate the complex and dynamic nature of individual decision-making ‘worlds’. We do this by using an innovative methodology that allows participants to visualise their value trade-offs, in the present and the future. We then examine similarities and differences between these worlds to show where priorities converge and diverge. We argue that attention to intersecting, conflicting, and potentially uncomfortable processes of prioritisation, and the losses and omissions they (re)produce, provide crucial entry points to negotiate adaptation and navigate risks within and across communities in ways that are inclusive, fair, and sustainable.
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