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Sea Change: Island Communities and Climate Change


Island communities stand to be among the first and most adversely affected by the impacts of global climate change. Rising sea levels, changing precipitation and storm patterns, and increasing air and sea-surface temperatures stress already limited island resources while climate change policies circumscribe local decision making. Anthropologists make important contributions to understanding island-based knowledge, global causes of vulnerability, local perceptions of risk, and islander agency channeled into adaptive capacity and resilience. A conceptual framework that recognizes both the complexity of the causes of island vulnerability and the constraints and opportunities available to islanders offers an analytical approach to understanding islander responses to climate change, including migration. The framework is used to show that island communities are not merely isolated, small, and impoverished but that they are often deeply globally connected in ways that reject such simple descriptions and will be essential to just and equitable climate solutions.


Lazrus, H., 2012. Sea Change: Island Communities and Climate Change, Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 41: 285-301 (Volume publication date October 2012)

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