BOX 2-1
Definitions of Key Terms

Adaptation: the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities (shortened from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2012:3). Also, an action that reduces exposure or susceptibility to harm from a potential future event or that increases the likelihood of effective response.

Climate Change: a change in the mean or variability of any of the properties of climate that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer (adapted from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2012:3).

Climate Event: any event that is directly connected to the properties of climate through deterministic physical or biological mechanisms. Such events might be acute (e.g., a storm or heat wave), slowly developing (e.g., a drought or a change in the ecological range of a crop pest), or a combination of the two (e.g., wildfires in a drought-stricken forest). The behavior of climate includes the full range of climate events; the term weather normally is applied to short-term climate events.

Climate Extreme: the occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable above (or below) a threshold value near the upper (or lower) ends of the range of observed values of the variable (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2012:3).

Coping: actions taken by individuals and communities using their available resources and typically without the intervention of formal organizations to face and manage adverse conditions, emergencies, or disasters (adapted from United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, 2009a).

Disaster: a consequence of hazardous physical or biological events interacting with vulnerable social conditions, leading to widespread adverse human, material, economic, or environmental effects that alter the normal functioning of


Figure 2-1 shows our general conceptual framework for thinking about climate–security relationships that involve vulnerabilities to climate events. We developed this framework from an examination of the research literature on the implications of climate change for human well-being and security, and we present it here as a way to think through the connections among various factors and to explore the needs for analysis, monitoring, and projecting potential security threats. We expect that as events proceed, monitoring improves, and understanding increases, the framework will evolve, and it will become possible to formulate it with more precision.

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