Ben Orlove, Kerry Milch, Lisa Zaval, Christoph Ungemach, Julie Brugger, Katherine Dunbar, Christine Jurt

Regional Environmental Change, June 2019


We report on anthropological research conducted in three mountain communities (in the USA, Italy and Peru), which have been directly affected by glacier retreat for over 40 years. Our mixed methods include ethnographic research, analysis of transcripts of interviews, focus groups and community meetings, and case studies of adaptation projects. Our findings indicate that local people are acute observers of change. They draw on two frames (climate change and community) in their discussions and projects but rely much more heavily on the latter frame. This pattern of drawing on the community frame, characteristic of all discussions, is most marked in the community meetings. The effectiveness of the community frame in supporting projects calls into question some widely shared notions about the role of belief in climate change as a crucial precondition for adaptation and challenges the “perceive–predict–act” model of climate change response.

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