Adaptation opportunities and constraints in coupled systems: Evidence from the U.S. energy-water nexus

TitleAdaptation opportunities and constraints in coupled systems: Evidence from the U.S. energy-water nexus
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsErnst, Kathleen M., and Preston Benjamin L.
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Volume70
Pages38-45
Date Published04/2017
Abstract / Summary

Over the past decade, adaptation has emerged as an important risk management strategy to address climate change and avoid adverse consequences. These endeavors overwhelmingly focus on actions within sectors and thus fail to account for coupled effects across systems. This paper focuses on adaptation constraints that arise from the interdependencies of coupled systems, and the opportunities that emerge when adaptation strategies integrate such interdependencies. Three general constraints to adaptation in coupled systems are identified and detailed using evidence from the United States energy-water nexus: insufficient data and information, path dependence, and institutional fragmentation and disorganization. Adaptation constraints within the energy-water nexus are especially difficult to avoid or overcome at local and regional scales owing to complex, and poorly integrated, governance structures. This indicates that some degree of national coordination is an important enabling condition to overcome constraints and enable adaptation throughout the energy-water nexus.

URLhttp://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.01.001
DOI10.1016/j.envsci.2017.01.001
Funding Program: 
Journal: Environmental Science & Policy
Year of Publication: 2017
Volume: 70
Pages: 38-45
Date Published: 04/2017

Over the past decade, adaptation has emerged as an important risk management strategy to address climate change and avoid adverse consequences. These endeavors overwhelmingly focus on actions within sectors and thus fail to account for coupled effects across systems. This paper focuses on adaptation constraints that arise from the interdependencies of coupled systems, and the opportunities that emerge when adaptation strategies integrate such interdependencies. Three general constraints to adaptation in coupled systems are identified and detailed using evidence from the United States energy-water nexus: insufficient data and information, path dependence, and institutional fragmentation and disorganization. Adaptation constraints within the energy-water nexus are especially difficult to avoid or overcome at local and regional scales owing to complex, and poorly integrated, governance structures. This indicates that some degree of national coordination is an important enabling condition to overcome constraints and enable adaptation throughout the energy-water nexus.

DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2017.01.001
Citation:
Ernst, KM, and BL Preston.  2017.  "Adaptation opportunities and constraints in coupled systems: Evidence from the U.S. energy-water nexus."  Environmental Science & Policy 70: 38-45.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2017.01.001.