Summary and Final Tasks

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At the beginning of this section, we introduced a thought problem: how can policy makers decide who and what to protect from coastal hazards? We also suggested a solution – vulnerability analysis, including consideration of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. While vulnerability analysis is often a helpful first step to understanding who and what to protect, in this module we used the example of long-term planning for sea level rise and related hazards to show how, in practice, decisions about preparing for coastal hazards are often more complicated. Who counts as a stakeholder, and how should they be included in the participatory planning process? How can these stakeholders choose from a long list of sea level rise strategies that may cause complex changes in coupled human-environmental systems? And where and when should these strategies be implemented? Section 4 provides an introduction to these questions. In attempting to answer them, it points towards the importance of policy making based on a rich understanding of the complexities of coastal human and environmental systems and their interactions.

In this course, we have described not only the physical processes that shape (and occasionally threaten) our coastal communities, but also how these communities can come together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the challenges of coastal hazards. As sea levels continue to rise, these challenges will become increasingly pressing for coastal communities worldwide. Through the course, we hope that you have learned more about these challenges and gained some of the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to address them.

People walking on a beach at sunset.
Figure 12.21: People walking on a beach at sunset.
Credit: PDPhoto.org

Reminder - Complete all of the Module 12 tasks!

You have reached the end of Module 12! Double-check the to-do list on the Module 12 Roadmap to make sure you have completed all of the activities listed there.

References and Further Reading

  • Frazier, T. G., N. Wood, and B. Yarnal. 2010. Stakeholder perspectives on land-use strategies for adapting to climate-change-enhanced coastal hazards: Sarasota, Florida. Applied Geography 30 (4):506–517
  • NOAA Climate.gov: Restoring Surfer's Point