Social Vulnerability and Equity in the United States in the Context of Climate Change: Synthesis of Literature
Kathy Lynn, Tribal Climate Change Project Coordinator, University of Oregon
The effects of climate change are expected to be more severe for some segments of society than others because of geographic location, the degree of association with climate-sensitive environments, and unique cultural, economic, or political characteristics of particular landscapes and human populations. Social vulnerability and equity in the context of climate change are important because some populations may have less capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related hazards and effects. Such populations may be disproportionately affected by climate change. This synthesis of literature illustrates information about the socioeconomic, political, health, and cultural effects of climate change on socially vulnerable populations in the United States, with some additional examples in Canada. Through this synthesis, social vulnerability, equity, and climate justice are defined and described, and key issues, themes, and considerations that pertain to the effects of climate change on socially vulnerable populations are identified. The synthesis reviews what available science says about social vulnerability and climate change and documents the emergence of issues not currently addressed in academic literature. In so doing, the synthesis identifies knowledge gaps and questions for future research. Download the brief.