Adaptation to climate change as social–ecological trap: a case study of fishing and aquaculture in the Tam Giang Lagoon, Vietnam
- 592 Downloads
The ways in which people respond to climate change are frequently analyzed and explained with the term “adaptation.” Conventionally, adaptation is understood as adjustments in behavior either to mitigate harm or to exploit opportunities emerging from climate change. The idea features prominently in scientific analyses as well as in policy programs. Despite its growing popularity over the years, the concept has also received critique. Social scientists in particular take issue with the implicit assumptions about human behavior and “fitness advantages” (or optimal behavior) that come with the term. Clearly, not all human and animal behavioral responses are “optimal” or display “fitness advantages.” To the contrary, sub-optimal and maladaptive behavior is rather widespread. Explaining the possibility of maladaptive or sub-optimal behavior led scholars to introduce the idea of “traps.” Trap situations refer to a mismatch between behavior and the social and/or ecological conditions in which this behavior takes place. This paper reviews the analytical value of traps for the study of human responses to climate change. It first lays out the theoretical assumptions underpinning the concept. A case study of the Tam Giang Lagoon, in central Vietnam, is used to evaluate how well the trap concept captures the sub-optimality and variety of human responses to climate change.
KeywordsAdaptation Tam Giang Aquaculture Fisheries Flooding Social–ecological traps
We would like to thank Sofie Joosse, Andrew Merrie, and Marc Metian for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. Thanks also to Hoang The Nhiem for the permission to use his photograph, and to Derek Armitage and co-authors for allowing a reprint of the map of the lagoon.
This paper is using empirical material from Tong Thi Hai Hanh’s MSc thesis that she completed within the RDViet MSc program. This study program was jointly organized by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences and the Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, and financially sponsored by the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA).
Wiebren Boonstra is supported by the Swedish Research Council FORMAS through a Young Research Leaders Grant 2013-1293 and project grant 2009-252. This research is also supported by Mistra (the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research), through a core grant to the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University.
- An, V. L., & Hoang, H. D. T. (2007). Climate change effects in Tam Giang and Cau Hai lagoon region. Hue City: IMOLA.Google Scholar
- Cao Thi Hong Nhung. (2008). A survey on losses caused by flood in 2007 and the solutions of the people around Tam Giang lagoon. Unpublished MSc. thesis. Hue City: Hue university of agriculture and forestry.Google Scholar
- Carpenter, S.R., Brock, W.A. (2008). Adaptive capacity and traps. Ecology and Society, 13, 40. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss2/art40/. (Accessed August 24, 2014.
- Daw, T., Adger, W.N., Brown, K., Badjeck, M.C. (2009). Climate change and capture fisheries: potential impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Climate change implications for fisheries and aquaculture: overview of current scientific knowledge. Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 530. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
- Geertz, C. (1963). Agricultural involution: The process of ecological change in Indonesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Gould, S. J., & Vrba, E. S. (1982). Exaptation—A missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology, 8, 4–15.Google Scholar
- Gray, R. T. (2005). A Franz Kafka encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Kafka, F. (1946 ). The great wall of China. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
- MARD. (2008). Impacts of climate change on agriculture and rural development. Ho Chi Minh City: Vietnamese Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD).Google Scholar
- Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2013). Scarcity: Why having too little means so much. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
- Nguyen Ngoc Truyen. (2004). Agricultural meteorology syllabus. Department of Extension and Rural Development, Hue City: Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry.Google Scholar
- Nicholls, R. J., Wong, P. P., Burkett, V. R., et al. (2007). Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, & C. E. Hanson (Eds.), Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (pp. 315–356). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Odling-Smee, F. J., Laland, K. N., & Feldman, M. W. (2003). Niche construction: The neglected process in evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Orlove, B. (2009). The past, the present and some possible futures of adaptation. In W. N. Adger, I. Lorenzoni, & K. O’Brien (Eds.), Adapting to climate change: Thresholds, values, governance (pp. 131–163). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Scheffer, M., Westley, F.R. (2007). The evolutionary basis of rigidity: locks in cells, minds, and society. Ecology & Society 12(2), 6 http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss2/art36/. Accessed August 24, 2014.
- Thomsen, D.C., Smith, T.F., Keys, N. (2012). Adaptation or manipulation? Unpacking climate change response strategies. Ecology and Society, doi: 10.5751/ES-04953-170320.
- Ton That Phap, Le Van Mien, Le Thi Nam Thuan. (2002). Sustainable development of aquaculture in Tam Giang lagoon. http://idlbnc.idrc.ca/dspace/bitstream/10625/32101/1/121938.pdf. Accessed March 5, 2014.
- Weber, M. (1978 ). Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar