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Free Content Ignorance and Resilience in Local Adaptation to Climate Change – Inconsistencies between Theory-Driven Recommendations and Empirical Findings in the Case of the 2002 Elbe Flood Nichtwissen und Resilienz in der lokalen Klimaanpassung – Widersprüche zwischen theoriegeleiteten Handlungsempfehlungen und empirischen Befunden am Beispiel des Sommerhochwassers 2002

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Klimaanpassung auf der lokalen Ebene muss mit Nichtwissen über klimatische und gesellschaftliche Entwicklungen umgehen. Das Konzept der Resilienz stellt dafür Handlungsstrategien bereit. In der Praxis werden diese aber kaum angewendet.



This paper identifies a central challenge relating to the adaptation to climate change on the local level: how to deal with the unknown and how to create a resilient environment. Although a consensus exists that our climate will change to a hitherto unknown extent, the anticipation of local and regional consequences has reached its limits. The primary reason for this is the unknown interference of social development and natural processes. This paper suggests a practical typology of (non-)knowledge and distinguishes between two main strategies of how to deal with unknown developments: anticipation and resilience. In a case study on the extreme Elbe flood in 2002, local adaptation strategies and lessons learned are investigated against the background of the previously introduced concepts of the unknown and adaptation strategies. The empirical findings show a gap between the local activities during and after the flood event and the scientific concepts of resilient adaptation strategies. Local actions mainly rely on anticipation and strong expectations. Resilient features are hard to detect and mostly come into conflict with the realized local adaptation strategy.

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Keywords: ADAPTATION; CASE STUDY; CLIMATE CHANGE; ELBE FLOOD; IGNORANCE; NESCIENCE; RESILIENCE

Language: German

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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