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Mental models: understanding the causes and consequences of climate change (PLA 60)

Mental maps are a participatory tool which provides an opportunity to make visible the connections between local and global factors (drivers) that shape changes in rainfall and temperature patterns as they have been observed at the local level. At the same time, the concept maps permit outside agencies such as researchers and NGOs to identify potential knowledge gaps that then can be filled in ways that enhance not only placed-based understandings of complex processes but, ultimately, adaptive capacity. Climate change is a complex issue, and many lay people, not only those in the developing world, have difficulties grasping what exactly causes changes in the climate system and what the consequences of these changes may be. Yet, understanding the basic dynamics is important for adaptation decision-making. The mental model has proven to be an exceedingly helpful tool to make apparent the complexity of climatic changes. It not only allows local stakeholders to engage in sometimes heated discussions about who is responsible and accountable for these changes; it also encourages participants to think about the possible control and predictability of the consequences.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

Article in: PLA 60. Guest-edited by: Hannah Reid, Mozaharul Alam, Rachel Berger, Terry Cannon and Angela Milligan.

Keywords: CBA, climate change, adaptation, participation, DRR, disaster risk reduction.

To read the full table of contents or download whole issue (English and Arabic) please click on More information above.

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