From prediction to policy an examination of the path from scientific prediction to climate change adaptation policy: Why does climate change adaptation policy often fail to achieve efficacy at an operational level

  • Stephen Dark

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Competing worldviews about climate change have consequences for climate change adaptation. Examples of the successful design and implementation of climate change adaptation policy are rare. In light of this, the author began by asking the question: what caused climate change adaptation policy to fail or what prevented it from succeeding? Early research pointed to two likely propositions, politico-media framing and the formation of disparate mental models. From these propositions the author developed a theoretical argument and deduced three hypotheses to test the research theory. Further research did not support a probable link between the politico-media framing of climate change and the failure of climate change adaptation policy. The evidence did however, support the formation of disparate mental models of climate change as a likely cause of climate change adaptation policy failure, and the failure of climate change policy per se. The author subsequently presented an argument to support this theory. The author concluded that climate change adaptation policy, and climate change policy per se, fails, whether by design or implementation, for the same reason it succeeds; the human capacity and proclivity for a System 2 mind mode which has a greater probability of validating an accurate mental model of the climate change problem; and as such, acts as a blueprint for a commensurate action. The author also submits the theoretical proposition that negativity bias is associated with a predisposition for a System 2 mind mode but this predisposition is subject to, among other things, an individual’s capacity and proclivity for reflective thinking and reasoning.
Date of Award10 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorShelley Burgin (Supervisor), Tor Hundloe (Supervisor) & Jacobus Fourie (Supervisor)

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