Naylor, A., Ford, J., Pearce, T. and Van Alstine, J. 2020. Conceptualizing Climate Vulnerability in Complex Adaptive Systems. One Earth, 2(5), pp. 444-454.
This Perspective develops a novel approach for assessing the vulnerability of complex adaptive systems to climate change. Our characterization focuses on the dynamic nature of vulnerability and its role in developing differential risk across multi-dimensional systems, communities, or societies. We expand on past conceptualizations that have examined vulnerability as processual rather than a static or binary state and note the necessary role of complexity and complex adaptive systems theory as a basis for effective vulnerability assessment. In illustrating our approach, we demonstrate the importance of factors such as modulation (connectedness), feedback mechanisms, redundancy, and the susceptibility of individual components within a system to change. Understanding the complexity of potentially vulnerable systems in this manner can help unravel the causes of vulnerability, facilitate the identification and characterization of potential adaptive deficits within specific dimensions of complex adaptive systems, and direct opportunities for adaptation.