Understanding and measuring human vulnerability to climate change

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Understanding and measuring human vulnerability to climate change

Global climate change affects all aspects of human-environmental interactions, including water and energy use, food and fiber production, coastal living and development, human health and well-being, and many others. Impacts of climate change have highly variable patterns and intensities around the world because of the spatial and temporal variations in human vulnerability to climatic variability, hazards, and weather extremes. Vulnerability of human systems to climate change has at least three groups of determinant factors, associated with exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. They reflect the degree to which the local populationis exposed to negative impacts based on location and terrain,how sensitive it isto climate hazards based on its socio-economic and demographic variables; and the existing capacity of this population to reduce harmful impacts trough adaptations. Research on human vulnerability and adaptations to climate change reveals that non-climatic variables of human vulnerability, including demographic, social, economic, and institutional factors may determine local and regional vulnerabilitiesto climate change to a greater extent than biophysical variables.

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