Maintaining Resilience in the Face of Climate Change

Social-Ecological Resilience and Law, edited by Ahjond S. Garmestani and Craig R. Allen. Copyright ©2014 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with Permission of the Publisher.

UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-35

31 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2014 Last revised: 14 Jul 2015

Alejandro E. Camacho

University of California Irvine School of Law; Center for Progressive Reform

T. Douglas Beard

USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center

Date Written: July 9, 2014

Abstract

Climate change, when combined with more conventional stress from human exploitation, calls into question the capacity of both existing ecological communities and resource management institutions to experience disturbances while substantially retaining their same functions and identities. In other words, the physical and biological effects of climate change raise fundamental challenges to the resilience of natural ecosystems. Perhaps more importantly, the projected scope of ecological shifts from global climate change — and uncertainty about such changes — significantly stresses the capacity of legal institutions to manage ecosystem change. Existing governmental institutions lack the adaptive capacity to manage such substantial changes to ecological and legal systems. In particular, regulators and managers lack information about ecological effects and alternative management strategies for managing the effects of climate change, as well as the institutional infrastructure for obtaining such information.

A number of recent initiatives have been proposed to address the effects of climate change on ecological systems. However, these nascent programs do not fully meet the needs for developing adaptive capacity. A federal, publicly accessible, and system-wide portal and clearinghouse will help regulators at all levels of government manage the effects and uncertainty from climate change. Such an information infrastructure, combined with a range of incentives that encourage regulators to engage in adaptive management and programmatic adjustment over time, will help governmental and private institutions become more resilient and capable of managing the physical and human institutional effects of changing climate.

Keywords: climate change, global warming, adaptation, natural resources, public land, protected area, federal land, Environmental Protection Agency, Geological Survey, Forest Service, Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, NOAA, USGS, wilderness, species, adaptive management

Suggested Citation

Camacho, Alejandro E. and Beard, T. Douglas, Maintaining Resilience in the Face of Climate Change (July 9, 2014). Social-Ecological Resilience and Law, edited by Ahjond S. Garmestani and Craig R. Allen. Copyright ©2014 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with Permission of the Publisher.; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-35. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2464235

Alejandro E. Camacho (Contact Author)

University of California Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 East Peltason Drive
4500-A
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-4160 (Phone)

Center for Progressive Reform ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
United States

T. Douglas Beard

USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center

12201Sunrise Valley Dr.
Reston, VA VA 20192
United States

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