Three emergencies of climate change: The case of Louisiana's coast

I. Fazey (Lead / Corresponding author), J. R. A. Butler, J. Kozak, J. Dubinin, C. Manning-Broome, D. Reed, G. Leicester, S. A. Burge, B. Searle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    108 Downloads (Pure)


    Climate challenge brings three, not just one, emergencies. These are the visible, conceptual and existential, all of which are urgent and important. The three emergencies are starkly highlighted in Louisiana, where historical coastal development and climate-induced sea level rise is causing visible emergencies in the form of extensive land loss and increased impacts of flooding and storm surges, leading to forced relocation of settlements. The visible emergencies cannot be overcome without addressing conceptual emergencies where current ways of organising, thinking and approaching the challenges are inadequate for the scale, nature and rate of change. The conceptual emergencies, in turn, cannot be overcome without addressing the existential, where different cultures, values and identities are needed to overcome existing conceptual challenges. Louisiana's state government is beginning to go beyond the visible to wrestle with the conceptual and, to some extent, awareness is growing about the existential. The need to address the conceptual and existential will only increase as the limits of current approaches to addressing the visible emergencies become more apparent. As such, the case highlights how climate change will force a transformation that will be characterised by fundamentally new social attributes. The nature of what emerges, however, is not guaranteed and will depend on how those in Louisiana and beyond seek to work with all three emergencies and their interconnections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-54
    Number of pages10
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
    Early online date16 Jun 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


    • Adaptation
    • Flood risk
    • Relocation
    • Sea level rise
    • Social learning
    • Transformation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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