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Title: Taking it to the extremes : understanding the role of assets in older people's vulnerability, resilience and adaptation to extreme temperatures
Author: Nunes, Ana Raquel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 9697
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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The emerging risks and impacts of climate change and extreme weather are an increasingly important threat to human health. This poses many challenges and opportunities for individuals and wider society on how to adapt. In response to the presently limited understanding of what shapes human adaptation to extreme temperatures, this thesis critically reviews current literature on vulnerability, resilience and adaptation. It does so, by drawing upon and bringing together the health, environmental science, climate science and sociology literatures to develop a framework for understanding the role of assets in shaping vulnerability, resilience and adaptation, as well as the interactions between these concepts. This thesis contributes to these emerging bodies of research by offering an interdisciplinary exploration and analysis of the factors shaping both general (i.e. daily life circumstances) and specified (i.e. extremely hot and cold temperatures) vulnerability (Brooks, 2003) and resilience (Folke et al., 2010; Miller et al., 2010), as well as adaptation to extreme temperatures. To address this, empirical data was collected at the individual level using a multimethodological approach. Structured and semi-structured interviews were used to quantitatively and qualitatively implement general and specified measures of vulnerability and resilience. An asset-based approach is used to assess vulnerability and the ‘Sense of Coherence’ scale is used to explore resilience. The findings derive from an inter-seasonal study (heat in summer, cold in winter) with a diversity of older people living independently in the city of Lisbon (Portugal). The results indicate that: (1) both general asset portfolio and general vulnerability are threatened by extreme temperatures, which erode specified assets and increase specified vulnerability (older people manifested slightly higher vulnerability to heat than cold); (2) resilience to extreme temperatures was found to be lower than general resilience, with resilience to cold being lower than resilience to heat; (3) adaptation to both heat and cold events is occurring to different degrees, with inequalities, lack of agency and powerlessness constraining and limiting adaptation. Overall, assets were found to be a key determinant of vulnerability, resilience and adaptation. Vulnerability was found not to be a key determinant of resilience, and both vulnerability and resilience were found to be key determinants of adaptation. These findings raise important policy and practice implications, emphasizing opportunities for reducing the health impacts of temperature extremes amongst older people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available