Data from an international study is set to capture the changing images of coastal regions undergoing the effects of climate change.
Academics from RGU School of Applied Social Studies have been working in collaboration with the Institute of Human Geography in the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, on a project funded by a British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Grant.
The one-year research project aims to understand how climate change affects coastal communities by studying Scotland and Vietnam – two very different countries sharing the common problems of rising sea levels, increasing extreme weather and environmental change due to a warming climate.
RGU’s Dr Leslie Mabon, Dr Chris Yuill and Dr Natascha Mueller-Hirth spent a week in Vietnam earlier this year, where they interviewed citizens, fishers and environmental managers in the Xuan Thuy National Park whose lives are being affected in different ways by changes to the environments in which they live.
Dr Nguyen Song Tung – one of Vietnam’s leading environmental scientists – returned the visit to Aberdeen last month with colleagues Dr Pham Thi Tram and Nguyen Thi Kim Dung from the Institute of Human Geography, to understand how Scottish environmental policymakers are dealing with climate change.
While in Scotland, they were taken by the RGU team to meet with Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland and Aberdeen City Council, to develop a comparable set of date to complement that which was collected in Vietnam.
Dr Leslie Mabon, an established researcher who has worked with communities across the world, believes that more can be done in Scotland and fellow Western counties to address the results of environmental change.
He said: “What has struck me the most from this research has been witnessing everything that is being done in Vietnam, as a country facing climate change now and having to respond to it with very limited resources.
“I feel we can learn a lot from their actions and put them into practice ourselves in Scotland. This includes prioritising the environmental protection of our coasts and understanding what climate change means at a very local level for people’s daily lives.”
A predominant finding of the research team has been that climate change can have profound effects on people’s sense of well-being that goes far beyond the immediate health or economic impacts on the wider community.
Dr Chris Yuill, will present the team’s initial findings at the British Sociological Association Conference on Society, Environment and Human Health later this month.
He said: “There is a lot of work out there already which looks at the physical health aspects of climate change, such as how warming trends affect communicable disease, but our findings from Vietnam show that it is the wider – perhaps less tangible – effects that really hit people the hardest.”
Release by Jonathon Milne
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