Risk and Blame in the Anthropocene

Multi-scale Climate Change Analysis
01 January 2013
Paper

Climate change and climate-change policies affect food security. Vulnerabilities, however, do not just fall from the sky. Vulnerability is not an attribute of changing hazards. It is produced and reproduced through social and political-economic relations on the ground.

Climate change and climate-change policies affect food security. Vulnerabilities, however, do not just fall from the sky. Vulnerability is not an attribute of changing hazards. It is produced and reproduced through social and political-economic relations on the ground. Risk of hunger is linked to local hierarchies, government relations, national and global markets, international laws and practices, and highly unequal and interlinked local, national and global political economies that give some access to needed resources, others access to social protections, yet others voice in political and economic decisions. These relations shape how people use, depend on, and are affected by nature. This article frames an analysis of vulnerability — risk of food insecurity, hunger, famine, displacement, economic loss — as it now must be analyzed in the new era of human-nature, the anthropocene. Risk in the anthropocene is now bifurcated with some social causality operating through climate. The focus on climate should, however, not take attention away from causes of vulnerability that remain on the ground.

Jesse Ribot Professor of Geography, Women and Gender in Global Perspective, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, and faculty of Beckman Institute, University of Illinois. Before 2008 Professor Ribot worked at World Resources Institute, taught at MIT, and was a fellow at The New School, Yale, Rutgers, Max Planck Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center, and Harvard. He is an Africanist studying local democracy, resource access, and social vulnerability.

Food Sovereignty: a critical dialogue, 14 - 15 September, New Haven.