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Does climate change cause disasters? How citizens, academics, and leaders explain climate-related risk and disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean

For decades, social scientists have attempted to reveal the real causes behind disasters. While some scholars have recently focused almost exclusively on people's vulnerabilities, the majority recognize that disasters result from a combination of people's choices and hazards. Agencies and government officials, on the other hand, have often downplayed the political component of disasters (particularly those linked to global warming), preferring to focus on the technical and managerial aspects of climate response. This study explores how activists in informal settlements, academics, and governments in the Global South explain climate-related risk and disasters. The study is based on interviews, workshops, and group meetings in Haiti, Cuba, Chile, and Colombia, and on a four-year analysis of implementation activities where community leaders were given financial resources to create risk reduction initiatives. Results show that there are significant mismatches between understandings of climate effects by people in informal settlements and decision-makers. Besides, whereas some scholars tend to focus on an anthropocentric view of risk and consider climate a component of “the hazard,” residents perceive it as a factor of their vulnerability and a threat to their territories and ecosystems. These results challenge some popular definitions of climate risk and suggest that modern epistemologies of disasters are inappropriate to set up effective risk reduction in the Global South. Understanding local narratives of risk is crucial for the integration of climate and social agendas in the region.
Author: Lizzaralde, Gonzalo; Bomstein, Lisa; Robertson, Melanie; Gould, Kevin; Herazo, Benjamin; Petter, Ann Marie; Paez, Holmes; Diaz, Julia Helena; Olivera, Andres; Gonzalez, Gonzalo; Lopez, Oswaldo; Lopez, Andriana; Burdiles, Roberto; Bucheraeu, Karine
Language: English
Pubished By: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (IJDRR)
Pubished date: March 2021

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