Climate change, its causes and consequences. Further it

Climate Change and SocietalTransformation  AnuradhaKamalResearchScholarAnuradha.

[email protected] CEDS PanjabUniversity,Chd   Abstract Climate changecreates new challenges for a global society. Responding to climate change is acomplex process of social transformation. Climate change responses alsochallenge the ways that human think about and interact with the environment andeach other. Thus effective responses to climate change involve complexprocesses of a societal transformation that must creates an insight forfundamental changes at different levels of society in order to cope with such amultifaceted problem.

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In addition, we must point to the fact that the socialsciences always perform a dual role being a critical observer and solutionprovider. Thus, the contribution of social sciences is crucial to theunderstanding of these processes of change. This paper discusses the growing bodyof knowledge on the climate change, its causes and consequences. Further ittalks about analytical and normative perspectives of societal transformationsin regard to climate change.                  Keywords: Climate change, societal transformation and socialscience IntroductionClimate change isa change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period oftime (i.

e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a changein average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather aroundlonger-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events).

Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, platetectonics, and volcaniceruptions. Certain human activities have also beenidentified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as”global warming”. Reasons Why ClimateChange Is a Social IssueClimate change is no longer only beingstressed by environmentalists. The effects of climate change will be economic,social, and environmental and will alter people’s lives in various  ways. So it is the time to facilitatediscussion on the social effects. Here are few reasons why climate change needsto be considered a social issue: 1.

Small farmers will feel the effects: Small farmers already struggle to get a fair price fortheir goods, safeguard against weather & pests, and compete withlarge-scale monoculture agricultural systems to stay in business. Climatechange is poised to make matters worse for farmers through a shift in climateand agricultural zones, changes in production patterns due to highertemperatures, and more extreme and changing precipitation patterns all of whichthreaten crops. Such an upset has the potential to take away families’livelihoods and main source of income as well as hurt entire communities whodepend on selling the fruit (and veggies) of their labor. Small farmers are anintegral part of our societies and, consequently, the effects of climate changeon farmers can threaten food supplies and security as well as increasevolatility in global food prices.2.

Rural and urban poor are the hardest hit: Poverty and inequality, which we havebeen working to improve for decades, will only get worse with climate changebecause disadvantaged groups do not have the resources to cope with effectssuch as extreme flooding or droughts that may displace them or change their wayof life. 3. Unequal capacity for adaptation: Developing countries, who did notsignificantly contribute to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,will now be at an even greater disadvantage when it comes to dealing with theeffects of climate change. Developing countries already struggle with lack ofinfrastructure and less technological and financial resources, among a numberof other concerns that will hinder their ability to adapt. Furthermore, thesecountries are dependent on the resources they do have to deal with high ratesof poverty and income inequality, both of which, as westated, will be exacerbated with climate change.

4. Women, children, and the elderly are even morevulnerable: Women, children, and the elderly who already tend to be avulnerable group in society will become even more so from climate change . Inrural areas of developing countries it is often the responsibility of women andchildren to collect firewood and water, yet decreasing supplies is resulting inmore work and less time for other tasks as they now often have to go furtherdistances to find supplies. Children and the elderly are also more susceptibleto the health concerns associated with climate change such as heat-related ailmentsfrom higher temperature, malnourishment due to increased strain on foodsupplies/increased prices, and also disease that can be associated withincreased flooding. 5. Communities will be forced to relocate: Many communities will be forced to move as they areexposed to rising sea levels, extreme drought that puts strain on resources, oreven extreme rainfall that becomes the norm. Because the effects of climatechange are not simply environmental but economic and social as well, new andexisting policies must take a holistic approach and transcend disciplines,sectors, and the public-private divide.

Factorsinfluencing Society’s responses to climate changeSocieties’ability to successfully respond to climate change can be influenced by socialissues, like finance, food, health, education, migration, poverty and security.In addition, other processes of societal change, such as globalisation,urbanisation, demographic shifts, changes in world market structures, andchanges in energy demand and supply affect societies’ capacity to respond.Climate change cannot be seen in isolation from the challenges that theseissues pose.  SocialtransformationSocial transformation is a shift in collective consciousness of a society – local, state, national or global – so thatreality is refined by consensus. In general, the concept of societal transformation in the socialsciences refers to the change of society’s systemic characteristics. Thisincorporates the change of existing parameters of a societal system, includingtechnological, economic, political and cultural restructuring. Social transformations are such when they sustain overtime where attitudes and values are held in a completely new context (orparadigm) based upon different assumptions and beliefs. The concept of’societal transformation’ refers to alterations of society’s systemiccharacteristics and encompasses social, cultural, technological, political,economic and legal change.

There is an increasing social and politicalawareness of the scale and seriousness of climate change and its potentiallydevastating consequences. An Insight into it has also gradually emerged whichshows that fundamental changes have to take place at different scales and indifferent sectors of society in order to cope with this multi-faceted problem.Despite the growing scientific evidence, climate change, its causes,consequences and possible response options remain contested by different groupsin society and are associated with different perceptions of uncertainty, risksand urgency. EffectiveResponses to Climate Change include Responses to climate change are not onlya matter of infrastructural adjustments, like building dikes, or technicalinnovations such as implementing renewable energies. They also includefundamental changes in our way of living, urban and regional planning, mobilitypatterns, land and water use, production processes, consumption patterns,nature conservation, and energy demand. Climate change responses also challengethe ways that humans think about and interact with the environment and eachother.

As such, all climate challenges are also societal challenges. Thus, itis fair to say that effective responses to climate change involve complexprocesses of societal transformations that should be studied as such. Diverseaspects of transformation, include transformations related to economics;politics; technical responses and infrastructure; urban areas; community-basedstrategies; learning and leadership; social-ecological systems; values, normsand worldviews; science and research; communication; and the arts. Linkagesbetween different scales and dimensions of transformation raise questions suchas; What do we actually mean by transformation, what does it entail and howdoes it differ from our understanding of processes of change and transition?What types of transformation are considered necessary? Is it possible toinnovate rapidly enough, and with suf­ficient intelligence, to transformsystems along pathways towards global justice, gender equity, and long-termsocial and ecological resilience? Can this be done in a participatory anddeliberative manner?  What factorsfacilitate transformation in theory and in practice, across different systems,sectors, and domains? What types of capacities and competencies need to be developedto initiate and facilitate transformations that are both ethical andsustainable? Where are the gaps in the current knowledge base? Adaptations for SocietalTransformationØ  Protecting the poor andvulnerable sections of society through an inclusive and sustainable developmentstrategy, sensitive to climate change.Ø  Achieving national growthobjectives through a qualitative change in direction that enhances ecologicalsustainability, leading to further mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.Ø  Devising efficient andcost-effective strategies for end-use Demand Side Management.Ø  Deploying appropriatetechnologies for both adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gases emissionsextensively as well as at an accelerated pace.Ø  Engineering new and innovativeforms of market, regulatory and voluntary mechanisms to promote sustainabledevelopment.

Ø  Effecting implementation ofprogrammes through unique linkages, including with civil society and localgovernment institutions and through public private-partnerships.Ø  Welcoming internationalcooperation for research, development, sharing and transfer of technologiesenabled by additional funding and a global IPR regime that facilitatestechnology transfer to developing countries under the UNFCCC. Climateconcerns, in this view, are clearly not about the environment alone. Theyreflect instead economic priorities, financial and institutional arrangements,energy security and local level developments. They seek to protect the poor andthe vulnerable as well as to engineer new and innovative markets.  Challenges of Climate Change and Societal Transformation Climatechange is considered by many to be the greatest challenge to humanity. In theabsence of signi­ficant responses, climate change can lead to unprecedentedsocial and ecological impacts. Climate change responses include both measuresto reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changes that are projected tooccur in the next decades.

The concept of transformation is increasingly usedto describe the types of responses that are considered necessary. Transformationcan be defi­ned as physical and/or qualitative changes in form, structure, ormeaning-making. It can also be understood as a psycho-social process involvingthe unleashing of human potential to commit, care and effect change for abetter life. Transformation to a low-carbon, well-adapted global societypresents both opportunities and risks.

For some, it is associated with a greeneconomy, opportunities for innovation and increased levels of well-being. Forothers, it suggests a contraction of freedom that can result in chaos anddisruption. Still others see it as the agenda of powerful interests seeking totake advantage of multiple crises. Transformation is thus not a neutralprocess, and there are diverse values and interests at stake. There are manytheories, frameworks and approaches that provide insights on transformation.The literature generally points to the need for transformation at the systemslevel, which is dependent upon changes at multiple, interlinked levels ofhuman-environmental interactions, facilitated by factors such as reaction,deliberation, innovation, learning, and leadership. In the face of climatechange these diverse approaches can be integrated in ways that generateequitable, ethical and sustainable responses.  Role of SocialSciences in TransformationIn view of the societal changes that anyresponse to climate change will inevitably entail, we argue that the socialsciences should have a more prominent role in climate change research.

socialscientists can bring critical perspectives on cause, effect and controversy;they can engage with policy processes; and help solve the multi-facetedproblems that climate change will inevitably make more visible, urgent, andcomplex. Given the broad impact that climate change is expected to have onsocieties and considering the scale of change needed, a social scienceperspective on the social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions ofclimate change is key to adaptation and mitigation science knowledge is an indispensable part of the global scientific,policy and social mobilisation effort required. Its importance grows as theeffects of human actions on global conditions snowball and our understanding ofthese processes deepens. In addition, we must point to the fact that the socialsciences always perform a dual role, being a critical observer and independentmessenger on the one hand (providing explanatory, evaluative and predictiveknowledge) and, on the other hand, being a co-designer of relevant and effectivesolution strategies (providing prescriptive, strategic and instrumentalknowledge).  Socio-economic scenarios for societaltransformations in response to climate change and its consequencesDevelopmentof credible scenarios for societal changes in response to climate change isrelatively underexplored.

The integration with climate change impact scenariosis still in its infancy. Social scientists need to find out what thesocio-economic implications of transformations in response to climate change wouldbe. What do responses to climate change mean for local, national and globaldynamics in terms of: dominant modes of production and consumption; lifestylesand livelihoods; global trade and economic growth imperatives; migration; andsocio-cultural orientations. Besides producing socio-economic scenarios, socialscientists also need to reflect on how the scenarios may be used. Are they usedto analyse and explain societal developments and to learn and develop insightsabout complex interrelations and side-effects of measures? Or, could they alsobe used for pursuing political agendas? Social scientists need to make apurposeful decision as to whether and how they intend to act merely as analystsin the field of climate change and societal transformations  Governance forsocietal TransformationThetransformation into low carbon, sustainable and resilient societies cannotoccur without some kind of governing to induce governments, businesses, NGOsand citizens to transform their practices. Insights are needed into how and towhat extent different governance modes are effective, efficient and legitimatein inducing societal transformations.  Although mainstream literature emphasizes theneed for collaborative and deliberative modes of environmental governance ?in order to be able to deal with the complex, multi-scale, cross-sectoral andlong-term aspects of environmental issues like climate change ?there is still a special role to play for the state and international politicalinstitutions in creating legally binding rules.

Moreover, questions related tothe roles of governments, networks, markets and civil society, and questionsrelated to the feasibility and effectiveness of different types of policyinstruments and measures, are in need of answering. In addition, researchshould unravel how governance processes are shaped, inparticular in terms of inclusive participation, deliberation, legitimacy,efficiency and transparency, as well as the factors enabling and constrainingthese processes. Future socialscience climate research priorities  What are plausible socio-economic scenarios for societal transformations in response to climate change and what do these scenarios entail, for whom and with what consequences?   What are the processes through which societal transformations related to climate change may take place and to what extent can they be influenced?   How is the ability of societies to respond to climate change enabled and constrained by other social, ecological and political dynamics and what strategies are there to successfully deal with these interconnected dynamics?   What forms of social and cultural meanings is climate change taking, and what is the significance of these for understanding societal transformations in the face of climate change? How and in what direction can such meanings be reshaped?   What are the roles of specific concepts within the climate change debate, and what are their implicit and explicit normative connotations?   How are questions of social justice, participation, and the distributive effects of climate changes addressed in current societal debates, policies and legislation? How should they be addressed in transformative agendas?   What constitutes the governance of societal transformations in light of climate change? How is the governing of climate change at different levels being accomplished and contested, by whom and through what means, and with what consequences? What changes in modes of governance would be essential for transformative processes?   What is the role of economy and finance in climate change mitigation and adaptation? What new forms of climate finance and low carbon economies are necessary and feasible?   To what extent has the increased level and quality of climate science had an impact on policy and societal decision-making, and how can this be explained? What are the implications for organising effective science-policy interactions in the future?   What is needed for further integration of social science knowledge in agenda-setting and issue-framing in climate change research and policy-making?  ConclusionClimatechange creates new societal challenges, including the need to transform energysystems away from a dependence on fossil fuels and the need to protectcitizens, business and nature from climate risks.

Climate change is a complexreality, which affects society at large. Understanding and responding toclimate change requires coordinated and large-scale effortsacross the globe – in research, knowledge dissemination, innovation andgovernance. Strengthening the role of the social sciences in climate researchcan contribute to our understanding of the processes of societal transformationand how they can be related to climate change. Climate social science is a relatively new field encompassing bothfundamental and applied research. Connecting different disciplinary approachesin natural and social sciences will lead to research efforts of higherscientific quality and societal relevance. Furthermore, integrating science and society could increase thereflexivity and relevance of climate research and will contribute to a betterapplication of knowledge and policy recommendations.

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