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A Fine-Grained Study of the Experience of Drought, Risk and Climate Change Among Australian Wheat Farming Households

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Abstract:

An increasing body of research shows that climate change takes expression in local processes such as increased climatic variability; climatic risk is managed in relation to other risks in agricultural households; and adaptation is an everyday social process as much as a question of new crop varieties. Understanding how farming households experience the interactions of climatic variability, multifaceted risk, adaptation, and everyday social processes is crucial to informed policy development. A study of New South Wales wheat farming households during the failed harvest seasons of 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 provided a unique opportunity to examine how they approached unprecedented drought in relation to both past and future changes. We analyzed their experience of the hybrid assemblage comprising risk, climate change, and a deregulated policy environment in their everyday lives and individual bodies. These farmers are not adapting to future conditions but are in continuous interplay among multiple temporalities, including memories of the past. They see themselves as adapting in situ rather than relocating northwards with predicted rainfall movements. Capacities to deal with risk and uncertainty vary with a range of social and locational factors, tending to coalesce into patterns of vulnerability and resilience that offer strong predictors as to which households are most likely to be sustainable in the longer term.

Keywords: New South Wales; Nueva Gales del Sur; adaptación; adaptation; agricultura; agriculture; drought; entrevistas semiestructuradas; semistructured interview; sequía

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2011.579533

Affiliations: 1: Australian Centre for Cultural Environmental Research, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences,University of Wollongong, 2: School of Arts and Sciences,Australian Catholic University Limited,

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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