Utilizing relational and social network analysis to inform community-based climate change adaptation : a central Oregon case study Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/th83m163p

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  • Central Oregon's landscape is rich in dry forests prone to frequent wildfires. Climate change studies and improved modeling indicate this region could experience conditions that result in an increase in number and severity of wildfires. With the potential for increased environmental hazards, the nearby communities face potential risks and vulnerabilities to their social, political, cultural and economic conditions. This dissertation utilizes an innovative social network methodological framework to examine current socio-political conditions and information network systems associated with wildfire and climate change in two Central Oregon communities. Research focused on the communities' social and information networks on climate change and governmental activities, the degree of network connections to professionals, and measures of community social capital. The results illustrate that both communities have a high percentage of community members that are disengaged with the subject of climate change. It was also found that within the community social network exchanges, climate change is rarely discussed nor did it overlap with other informational issues such as wildfires and community politics. Information networks on climate change are complex, and ties to climate change information sources do not always reflect one's position on climate change or its local risks. Informational resources regarding governmental activities are mostly media based in the incorporated community and social systems appear more important in the rural communities. When expressed, social capital and more specifically, governmental trust appears to be linked to the degree of concern respondents have on climate change, suggesting that addressing scientific illiteracy may not be as important as establishing or maintaining positive governmental relations. Furthermore, this research may have policy implications for increasing local adaptive capacity, as well as research implications for the use of social network analysis as a tool to address future research.
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