Resilience to Climate Change: A Socio-Ecological Case Study from Puerto Rico

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Nov 26, 2019
Author: 
Tatiana Abatemarco, Tatiana Gladkikh, Elvia J. Melendez-Ackerman, and Christopher J. Nytch

As a result of climate change, both cyclonic storms (e.g., hurricanes) and droughts are increasing in severity and frequency around the globe. Additionally, sea level is rising. This poses a particular challenge for island communities. This case study looks at Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory located in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico was struck by two hurricanes (Irma and María) in the span of two weeks in September 2017. In addition to the environmental pressures of climate change, the island has also experienced social and political upheaval, resulting in a twofold challenge to community resilience. This socio-environmental synthesis case study integrates historical, governance, biophysical, and socio-economic analyses of Puerto Rico to consider the role of community resilience as a strategy for climate adaptation. It focuses on the eastern region of the island surrounding El Yunque National Forest, illustrated through the story of La Vega community. This case study is appropriate to lower and middle levels of undergraduate education and takes place over three class days, with assignments preceding each class day.

Estimated time frame: 
A few class periods (i.e., less than 3 hours)
SES learning goals: 
  • Systems Thinking 
  • Boundary-Crossing

Key Words: climate change, resilience, Puerto Rico, decolonialism, Hurricane María, El Yunque National Forest

Has this been tested in the class room: 
No
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