Temporal dimensions of human environmental research: Adaptive capacity in rural South Africa
This article explores the problem of studying the temporal dimensions of human-environmental interactions, especially in light of not having available longitudinal data. We utilize a methodology that highlights the past, present, and future, in order to approximate these kinds of results in rural South Africa. The present is measured in the form of livelihood surveys. For the past, oral histories were conducted with elderly people in four villages to acquire information about past adaptive strategies. For the future, focus groups and fuzzy cognitive maps (FCM) of household participants in a workshop setting were conducted so as to understand what adaptations they envisage. We found that present conditions for adaptive capacity do not always align with those described in the past or envisaged for the future, but linkages emerge in a number of instances. Studies like this provide a means for temporal analysis without necessitating the use of longitudinal data.
Keywords: climate change, adaptation, environmental science, temporal analyses, longitudinal, South Africa