Nested and teleconnected vulnerabilities to environmental change

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Abstract

The vulnerability of distant peoples and places to global change in environment and society is nested and teleconnected. Here, we argue that such vulnerabilities are linked through environmental change process feedbacks, economic market linkages, and flows of resources, people, and information. We illustrate these linkages through the examples of the global transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the interdependent vulnerabilities and adaptations of coffee farmers in Vietnam and Mexico. These cases demonstrate that the vulnerability of specific individuals and communities is not geographically bounded but, rather, is connected at different scales, so that the drivers of their exposure and sensitivity are inseparable from large-scale processes of sociocultural change and market integration. Aggregate outcomes of government policies, trends in global commodity markets, and even decisions by individuals to improve livelihood security can have negative repercussions, not only locally, through transformations of ecological systems and social relations, but also at larger scales.

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