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A Conceptual Model of the Effects of
To model the effects of climatic variability, one must simplify
a very complex system of human-environment interactions. Numerous
conceptual modeling schemes have been previously proposed to
portray the interactions of human systems and climate variability.
We rely here on a scheme modified from one proposed by Kates
(1985). Kates's general scheme is shown in Figure 5-1, and our
scheme, which focuses on the major factors affecting the human
consequences of climatic variations and forecasts, is in Figure
5-2. Our scheme differs from the more general one in providing more
detail on particular kinds of human activity and human-environment
relationships and in omitting some of the feedbacks in the general
model for a more focused presentation.
Most analyses of the human consequences of climatic variability
include one or more elements of the scheme in Figure 5-2, with some
parts better represented than others. Climatic averages and
variations affect various biophysical systems on which people
depend; they also influence human activities designed to cope with
climate. The human consequences of climatic variations are shaped
by climatic, biophysical, and social factors, including both the
coping activities and more general social forces. For example, farm
income is affected not only by climatic events and their
biophysical consequences, but also by the coping behaviors of
FIGURE 5-1 A schematic model of factors
responsible for the human consequences
of climatic variability. Source: Kates (1985). Reprinted by
permission of SCOPE.