Department of Social Anthropology
bsas seminar

Jon Barnett - The dilemmas of normalising losses from climate change: Towards hope for Pacific atoll countries

Profilbilde av Jon Barnett
Planetary Security Intitative

Main content

The idea that climate change may cause the loss of atoll countries is now taken for granted in much of climate change science, policy and media coverage. This normalisation of loss means atoll countries now face a future that is apparently finite, which is a grievous situation no other country has to contend with.

This paper explains the dilemmas this presents to atoll countries. If there is a risk of forced migration, then strategic planning can minimise its social impacts. Yet, doing so may bring future dangers into the present by undermining efforts to facilitate adaptation to climate change, creating new identities and deterring investments in sustainable resource management. To overcome this dilemma, the paper argues for a more hopeful approach to the future of atoll countries, because for as long as the science of loss remains uncertain, and the limits to adaptation are unknown, forced migration cannot be taken as a matter of fact and could possibly be averted through emission reductions and a vastly improved and significantly more creative approach to adaptation.

Jon Barnett is a political geographer whose research investigates social impacts and responses to environmental change. He has twenty years of experience conducting field-based research in several Pacific Island Countries, and in Australia, China and Timor-Leste. This research has helped explain the impacts of climate change on cultures, food security, inequality, instability, migration, and water security, and ways in which adaptation can promote social justice and peace. Jon is Professor and Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow in the School of Geography at The University of Melbourne. He was a Lead Author of the chapter on Human Security in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, and he co-edits the journal Global Environmental Change.   

Light refreshments will be served after the talk.

All are welcome!