The dynamics of vulnerability: what droughts and flooding can teach us about adapting to climate change

Cities in the U.S. have been adapting to drought and flooding for many years, implementing a combination of mechanisms to cope with climate and water variability and (often) increasing population. I argue that these experiences help us to understand how society will engage the challenge of adapting to climate change. Data from drought management and flooding show that adaptation to climate variability can shift vulnerability in unexpected ways. This suggests that there is a need for greater engagement with various publics on the tradeoffs involved in adaptation action and for improving analysis and communication about the complicated nature of the dynamics of vulnerability.

Speaker Bio: Lisa Dilling is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and a member of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder.