, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 723-738
Date: 19 Feb 2010

Planning for the Human Dimensions of Oil Spills and Spill Response

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Abstract

Oil spill contingency planners need an improved approach to understanding and planning for the human dimensions of oil spills. Drawing on existing literature in social impact assessment, natural hazards, human ecology, adaptive management, global change and sustainability, we develop an integrative approach to understanding and portraying the human dimensions impacts of stressors associated with oil spill events. Our approach is based on three fundamental conclusions that are drawn from this literature review. First, it is productive to acknowledge that, while stressors can produce human impacts directly, they mainly affect intermediary processes and changes to these processes produce human impacts. Second, causal chain modeling taken from hazard management literature provides a means to document how oil spill stressors change processes and produce human impacts. Third, concepts from the global change literature on vulnerability enrich causal models in ways that make more obvious how management interventions lessen hazards and mitigate associated harm. Using examples from recent spill events, we illustrate how these conclusions can be used to diagrammatically portray the human dimensions of oil spills.