Advertisement

Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1527–1544 | Cite as

Adaptation to climate change as social–ecological trap: a case study of fishing and aquaculture in the Tam Giang Lagoon, Vietnam

  • Wiebren J. Boonstra
  • Tong Thi Hai Hanh
Case Study

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Adaptation Tam Giang Aquaculture Fisheries Flooding Social–ecological traps 

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

References

  1. Adger, W. N. (2006). Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3), 268–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adger, W. N., Arnell, N. W., & Tompkins, E. L. (2005). Successful adaptation to climate change across scales. Global Environmental Change, 15(2), 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Brown, K., Marshall, N., & O’Brien, K. (2013). Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 3(2), 112–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adger, W. N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., et al. (2009). Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climatic Change, 93(3–4), 335–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. An, V. L., & Hoang, H. D. T. (2007). Climate change effects in Tam Giang and Cau Hai lagoon region. Hue City: IMOLA.Google Scholar
  6. Armitage, D., & Marschke, M. (2013). Assessing the future of small-scale fishery systems in coastal Vietnam and the implications for policy. Environmental Science & Policy, 27, 184–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Armitage, D., Marschke, M., & Tuyen, T. V. (2011). Early stage transformation of coastal marine governance in Vietnam? Marine Policy, 35(5), 703–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barnett, J., & O’Neill, S. (2010). Maladaptation. Global Environmental Change, 20(2), 211–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beckman, M. (2011). Converging and conflicting interests in adaptation to environmental change in central Vietnam. Climate and Development, 3(1), 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Belton, B., & Little, D. (2011). Immanent and interventionist inland Asian aquaculture development and its outcomes. Development Policy Review, 29(4), 459–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Biesbroek, G. R., Klostermann, J. E., Termeer, C. J., & Kabat, P. (2013). On the nature of barriers to climate change adaptation. Regional Environmental Change, 13(5), 1119–1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boonstra, W. J., & de Boer, F. W. (2014). The historical dynamics of social–ecological traps. Ambio, 43(3), 260–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boonstra, W. J., & Nhung, P. T. H. (2012). The ghosts of fisheries management. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research, 4(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boonstra, W. J., & Österblom, H. (2014). A chain of fools: Or, why it is so hard to stop overfishing. Maritime Studies, 13(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bostock, J., McAndrew, B., Richards, R., et al. (2010). Aquaculture: Global status and trends. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 365(1554), 2897–2912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bush, S., Khiem, N., & Sinh, X. (2009). Governing pangasius for sustainable rural livelihoods and environmental performance: A review. Aquaculture Economics and Management, 13(4), 271–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. Dow, K., Berkhout, F., Preston, B. L., Klein, R. J. T., Midgley, G., & Shaw, M. R. (2013). Limits to adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 3(4), 305–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Foster, J. B., & Holleman, H. (2012). Weber and the environment: Classical foundations for a postexemptionalist sociology. American Journal of Sociology, 117(6), 1625–1673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Geertz, C. (1963). Agricultural involution: The process of ecological change in Indonesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gould, S. J. (1997). The exaptive excellence of spandrels as a term and prototype. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(20), 10750–10755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gould, S. J., & Lewontin, R. C. (1979). The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: a critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 205(1161), 581–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gould, S. J., & Vrba, E. S. (1982). Exaptation—A missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology, 8, 4–15.Google Scholar
  26. Gray, R. T. (2005). A Franz Kafka encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  27. Ha, Tran Thi Phung, & van Dijk, H. (2013). Fishery livelihoods and (non)compliance with fishery regulations—A case study in Ca Mau Province, Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Marine Policy, 38, 417–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hodgson, G. M., & Knudsen, T. (2010). Darwin’s conjecture: The search for general principles of social and economic evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jump, A. S., & Penuelas, J. (2005). Running to stand still: Adaptation and the response of plants to rapid climate change. Ecology Letters, 8(9), 1010–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kafka, F. (1946 [1931]). The great wall of China. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
  31. Kates, R. W. (2000). Cautionary tales: Adaptation and the global poor. Climatic Change, 45(1), 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lebel, L., Manuta, J. B., & Garden, P. (2011). Institutional traps and vulnerability to changes in climate and flood regimes in Thailand. Regional Environmental Change, 11(1), 45–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mace, R., & Jordan, F. M. (2011). Macro-evolutionary studies of cultural diversity: A review of empirical studies of cultural transmission and cultural adaptation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1563), 402–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 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
  35. Mullainathan, S., & Shafir, E. (2013). Scarcity: Why having too little means so much. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
  36. Nguyen Ngoc Truyen. (2004). Agricultural meteorology syllabus. Department of Extension and Rural Development, Hue City: Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry.Google Scholar
  37. 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
  38. Odling-Smee, F. J., Laland, K. N., & Feldman, M. W. (2003). Niche construction: The neglected process in evolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  39. 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
  40. Platt, J. (1973). Social traps. American Psychologist, 28(8), 641–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rothstein, B. (2005). Social traps and the problem of trust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scheffer, M., & Carpenter, S. R. (2003). Catastrophic regime shifts in ecosystems: linking theory to observation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18(12), 648–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 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.
  44. Schlaepfer, M. A., Runge, M. C., & Sherman, P. W. (2002). Ecological and evolutionary traps. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 17(10), 474–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sekercioglu, C. H., Loarie, S. R., Oviedo, B. F., Ehrlich, P. R., & Daily, G. (2007). Persistence of forest birds in the Costa Rican agricultural countryside. Conservation Biology, 21(2), 482–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sovacool, B. K. (2013). Adaptation: The complexity of climate justice. Nature Climate Change, 3, 959–960.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. Tuyen, T., Armitage, D., & Marschke, M. (2010). Livelihoods and co-management in the Tam Giang Lagoon Vietnam. Ocean and Coastal Management, 53(7), 327–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Weber, M. (1978 [1922]). Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockholm Resilience CentreStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences, Program for Air, Water and Landscape SciencesUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations