Climate adaptation heuristics and the science/policy divide

The adaptation science enterprise has expanded rapidly in recent years, presumablyinresponsetogrowthindemandforknowledgethatcanfacilitateadaptationpolicyand
practice. However, evidence suggests such investments in adaptation science have not
necessarilytranslatedintoadaptationimplementation.Onepotentialconstraintonadaptation
maybetheunderlyingheuristicsthatare usedas thefoundationforbothadaptation research
and practice. Here, we explore the adaptation academic literature with the objective of
identifyingadaptationheuristics,assessingtheextenttowhichtheyhavebecomeentrenched
within the adaptation discourse, and discussing potential weaknesses in their framing that
could undermine adaptation efforts. This investigation is supported by a multi-method
analysis that includes both a quantitative content analysis of the adaptation literature that
evidences the use of adaptation heuristics and a qualitative analysis of the implications of
such heuristics for enhancing or hindering the implementation of adaptation. Results demonstrate
that a number of heuristic devices are commonly used in both the peer-reviewed
adaptation literature as well as within grey literature designed to inform adaptation practitioners.
Furthermore, the apparent lack of critical reflection upon the robustness of these
heuristics for diverse contexts may contribute to potential cognitive bias with respect to the
framingofadaptationbybothresearchers andpractitioners. Wediscussthisphenomenonby
drawing upon heuristic-analytic theory, which has explanatory utility in understanding both
the origins of such heuristics as well as the measures that can be pursued toward the cogeneration
of more robust approaches to adaptation problem-solving.
 

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