very little of the projected change in exposure is socioeconomic in origin (Hanson et al., 2011).
Changing Susceptibility to Food Insecurity
In many developing countries economic development and urbanization are making large populations less dependent on subsistence agriculture and local food supplies. This trend will decrease these populations’ vulnerability to extreme climate events affecting local crops and meat supplies. At the same time the dependence of low-income populations on imported food supplies provided by global markets may increase their vulnerability to climatic or economic events in other parts of the world that sharply increase the prices of the foods they have come to depend upon. The net effect of these social changes on the well-being of these populations in the face of climate change is likely place-dependent.
Changing Likelihood of Effective Response
Social, economic, and political conditions may also affect the capacity and willingness of governments and societies to respond and mitigate harm to vulnerable populations when disruptive climate events occur. Disaster researchers point out that both “social capital” in the affected communities and formal emergency response institutions and infrastructure play important roles in mediating the net degree of loss, disruption, and stress that result from extreme environmental events, including climate events (see, for example, Aldrich, 2012). Effective response also depends on the economic and other resources available to the governments of the affected populations and on the governments’ allocation of those resources. Whether or not climate events become social and political stresses serious enough to destabilize a government or generate violent conflict may depend on whether or not governments’ disaster response efforts are perceived to be under-resourced, poorly managed, or characterized by favoritism, corruption, and lack of compassion. (This is discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.) Estimates of risks from climate events may therefore need to take into account the likely future condition of formal and informal response and recovery systems; furthermore, if there appears to be a significant likelihood of inadequate responses, the estimates should consider the likely consequences for social and political systems, including the governments potentially held responsible.