Climate Change and Small Island States: Power, Knowledge and the South Pacific

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Small Island Developing States are often depicted as being among the most vulnerable of all places to the effects of climate change, and they are a cause celebre of many involved in climate science, politics and the media. Yet while small island developing states are much talked about, the production of both scientific knowledge and policies to protect the rights of these nations and their people has been remarkably slow. This book is the first to apply a critical approach to climate change science and policy processes in the South Pacific region. It shows how groups within politically and scientifically powerful countries appropriate the issue of island vulnerability in ways that do not do justice to the lives of island people. It argues that the ways in which islands and their inhabitants are represented in climate science and politics seldom leads to meaningful responses to assist them to adapt to climate change. Throughout, the authors focus on the hitherto largely ignored social impacts of climate change, and demonstrate that adaptation and mitigation policies cannot be effective without understanding the social systems and values of island societies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This is a courageous and provocative book. It challenges the prevailing views and assumptions about the science and policy of climate change. The focus is on Pacific small island states, but the questions raised apply worldwide. This is a timely check on established paradigms and their effectiveness (or otherwise) in contributing to practical adaptation to climate change in vulnerable regions.'
Barry Smit, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, University of Guelph, Canada

'Climate Change and Small Island States is a timely and most welcome book. It shows the value of using powerful social science insights to enrich what are often bland and superficial accounts of climate change impacts. Barnett and Campbell's book will contribute to the slowly growing critical literature which challenges the climate change science-and-policy orthodoxy, an orthodoxy which has narrowed our thinking and failed our people. This book is about enabling and trusting the people to take back control of their lives.'
Mike Hulme, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

'This is a fascinating book about small South Pacific islands and climate change that takes care to highlight the differences between the islands, gives agency to their residents, and shows the significance of history and political economy. Using critical perspectives on power and knowledge, the authors show how science and other discursive formations have represented the vulnerability of small island states and the ways in which these have overlooked the nuances of local experience, structured international debate, and limited the success of adaptation to date. The innovative theoretical perspective gives the book considerable resonance beyond the region.'
Diana Liverman, University of Arizona

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844074945
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 6/28/2010
  • Series: Earthscan Climate Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr Jon Barnett has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Science from the Australian National University and is currently an Australian Research Council Fellow at the University of Melbourne. John Campbell has a PhD in Geography from the University of Hawaii and is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, University of Waikato, New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

1 The Trouble with Climate Change 1

2 Environment and Development in Pacific Islands 21

3 The History and Architecture of Climate Science 51

4 Pacific Science Initiatives 69

5 The Architecture of Climate Change Policy 85

6 Doing Climate Change in the Pacific 111

7 Investing in Uncertainty and Vulnerability 139

8 Discourses of Danger 155

9 Conclusions 175

References 185

Index 211

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