Climate change and local uncertainties: Perceptions and reactions in an Alpine community of South Tyrol
Sophie Elixhauser (University of Augsburg)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the perceptions, discourses and activities connected to global climate change in an Alpine community of South Tyrol, and the insecurities this concept creates on the ground.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the perceptions, discourses and activities connected to global climate change in an Alpine community of South Tyrol (Italy), and the insecurities this concept creates on the ground. Though the Alps due to their physical exposure are often regarded as particularly vulnerable to environmental changes associated with global warming, fieldwork in a South Tyrolean community shows that many inhabitants do not feel personally affected nor concerned to act upon rather vague (and sometimes contested) predictions of the climate scientists' community - predictions which appear mostly detached from their particular environments. With the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol aiming to become a true 'Klimaland', climate protection and adaptation are increasingly becoming part of official regulations and the topic appears in media discussions of different sorts. In the local community under study, however, climate change serves mainly as a sort of "add-on" explanation by local politicians and some individuals concerned with environmentally-friendly activities (e.g., sustainable tourism, building), yet not as a major frame of interpretation and determinant of action in itself. One encounters great uncertainty with regard to the question whether global climate change is the reason for the environmental/meteorological changes that affect people's surrounding environments, and respective questions are often delegated to experts. This paper will look at how local action and non-action develops in the light of this uncertainty.
Averting a global environmental collapse: the role of anthropology and local knowledge (WCAA panel)