CHAM International conference in Lisbon, 12-15 July 2017
- Joana Freitas (IELT, FCSH) email
- Ana Cristina Roque (Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa) email
This panel focus on the cultural responses to coastal and maritime disasters. From historical cases to present situations the human component of a disaster is a key-factor to understand its causes and consequences. It can also provide relevant information for facing future challenges.
Natural events only become disasters when they have negative impacts on humans. So, in disasters two factors must be considered: natural phenomena and cultural responses. Storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, coastal erosion and flooding have been affecting coastal areas since ever; but, in the Anthropocene, disasters seem to be increasing worldwide. Global climate change is being pointed as the cause for these extreme events. However, climate change is far from being the main explanation. The human component in disaster is many times neglected and it must be analyzed too.
Within this perspective, this panel intends to be a sort of platform for the discussion on disasters in coastal and maritime environments. Storms and tsunamis, coastline retreat, sea mean level rise, menaces to cities, islands and human activities, will be considered, any time and place, the focus though will be on the human responses to these disasters. Therefore, we welcome proposals considering communities' reactions to extreme events; practices or techniques developed to prevent damages; cases of learning and adapting; sustainable solutions and side-effects of technology in risk prevention; social justice in disaster management; vulnerability and resilience examples; ecological refugees and other humanitarian problems.
Our main purpose is to debate how societies' options contributed for many of the Anthropocene problems and point, if possible, positive narratives, good practices and sustainable solutions that can help us to face future challenges.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
The Sea Menace: coastal erosion in Beira (Mozambique) in an environmental history's perspective
This paper focus on the problem of coastal erosion at Beira. Using historical sources from the Portuguese archives and comparisons with other cases in Africa and Europe, the authors address societal responses to the problem and point their key-role in the disaster.
The city of Beira has serious problems of coastal erosion. Part of the urban area is being encroached by the sea and global climate change is considered a major threat to its future. More engineering works are being built to protect the city.
This is not a recent issue. The city was built in a mangrove and dune area, between the Pungwe River and the sea. Settling there was a challenge since the beginning. Founded by the Portuguese, in 1887, Beira started being affected by coastal erosion soon after their installation. The problem increased as the urban area expanded along the seaside in the 20th century. Technical knowledge was imported from the metropolis, where similar problems were affecting the coast. Like in other places, in Europe and Africa, facing coastal erosion, great efforts were made to cope with the disaster.
Based in historical sources from the Portuguese archives and secondary readings, this study addresses the measures adopted to solve coastal erosion, exploring how it affected Beira growth in the 20th century. It also aims to compare different approaches to the problem analyzing how the Portuguese and the British empires dealt with it in their homeland coasts and the colonies. The final goal is to reflect on human-environment relations in a long-term perspective, pointing different cultural responses to disaster and the unattended side-effects of human's agency. Pertinent issues to consider now that the sea mean level rise is menacing more cities and choices must be made.
High impact storms over the North Atlantic coastal zones: variability, societal impacts and risk assessment
Extreme windstorms are one of the most costly natural hazards in Europe. In this work examples of how different communities respond and adapt to these extreme events are compared allowing for a better understanding and assessment of future challenges.
Extreme windstorms are one of the major natural disasters in the extratropics, one of the most costly natural hazards in Europe and are responsible for substantial economic damages and even fatalities (Liberato et al. 2011). During the last decades Europe witnessed major damage from winter storms and in Portugal, due to the extensive human use of coastal areas, the natural and built coastal environments have been amongst the most affected.
In this paper a review of recent high impact storms which occurred in Europe, associated with adverse impacts - either from extreme wind, surges and precipitation - is presented (e.g. Liberato et al. 2013; Liberato 2014). Associated societal damages, particularly in Portugal, are discussed. Examples of how different communities respond and adapt to the storm surge risks are compared considering regional aspects. Finally, the occurrence of these extreme events is put in perspective over both the recent past (65 years; Karremann et al. 2016) and future climate scenarios (last decades of the 21st century; Ulbrich et al. 2013) in order to better understand, evaluate and prepare for future challenges.
Acknowledgements: This work is supported by FCT - project UID/GEO/50019/2013 - Instituto Dom Luiz.
Karremann et al. 2016 Atmosph. Sci. Lett., 17, 6, 354-361 doi: 10.1002/asl.665
Liberato et al. 2011 Weather 66, 330-334 doi:10.1002/wea.755
Liberato et al. 2013 Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2239-2251, doi: 10.5194/nhess-13-2239-2013
Liberato 2014 Weather and Climate Extremes, 5-6, 16-28 doi: 10.1016/j.wace.2014.06.002
Ulbrich et al. 2013 Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 22, 1, 61-68 doi: 10.1127/0941-2948/2013/0420
* Also at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal
Adaptive governance: exploring social responses to coastal risks in vulnerable areas in Portugal
Climate change poses high challenges to overpopulated coastal areas. This presentation discusses the results of Change, a three-year research project that analysed social responses to increased coastal risks in Portugal.
Highly populated coastal areas are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, one of the main concerns revealed by the most recent IPCC report. In face of sea level rise and more frequent coastal storms, they will have to adopt innovative adaptation strategies. In Portugal, economic austerity has been constraining funds for coastal defence. Therefore coastal management will have to confront a geomorphological and social process of creative adaptive governance if future economies and societies are to remain viable and resilient.
Social scientists will be heavily involved in this challenging prospect. This was the experience of a three-year research - CHANGE - Changing Coasts, Changing Climate, Changing Communities. The project used future scenarios on the impacts of coastal storms (up to 2050) to promote a meaningful dialogue between a range of interested parties and coastal managers in three of the most vulnerable coastal areas across the country, Costa de Caparica, Quarteira and Vagueira.
The research - which included in-depth interviews, collection of historical data (evolution of the coast and social response to disasters), and detailed surveys - identified a high awareness of coastal risks and climate change. However, it also uncovered a dominant feeling of hopelessness towards future solutions for coastal protection and funding.
These critical gaps in prognoses, action and communication have been analysed in a set of interactive workshops. This presentation will sum up the results of the CHANGE process, bridging lessons from the aiming to offer an effective contribution towards new models of adaptive coastal governance.
From a long river to the sea: The marine environmental damages resulting from the rupture of the Mariana dam
This work analyses the disaster resulting from the disruption of the Mariana dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil, when its waste, after travelling more than 500 km along the Rio Doce, expanded by an enormous stretch of the Brazilian coast and resulted in numerous economic and environmental damages.
The sea, as a large receptacle of land-based waste, was scarcely as battered as it was due to the disaster resulting from the disruption of the Mariana dam in Minas Gerais - Brazil, when its waste, after travelling more than 500 km along the Rio Doce, expanded by an enormous stretch of the Brazilian coast and resulted in numerous economic and environmental damages. This paper aims to present actions (and inaction) in the face of a marine environmental disaster that, in a certain way, was predictable; since in front of the river current there was full awareness of when the waste would reach the coast. In addition, it intends to analyse how (and if) local, regional and national contingency plans foresee actions for this type of acute environmental aggression. From the analysis, it is also intended to present the damages already measured from the disaster until the passage of one year after it.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.