Mismatched priorities, smallholders, and climate adaptation strategies: landuse scientists, it’s time to step up

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In subsistence agriculture communities, survival is dependent upon real-time adaptability to stochastic events. For rural smallholders, shifting cultural, social, economic, demographic, environmental, and climatic pressures are all impacting livelihoods simultaneously. We present two case studies in which residents list livelihood priorities such as access to healthcare, markets, education, and agricultural extension support above climate change adaptation management. Impacts of climate change cannot be separated from impacts of capitalist economic systems on those most dependent upon natural resources, since by nature modern capitalism and associated structures of landownership and resource access blocks economic mobility by those too poor to differentiate their economic activities. To meaningfully improve adaptive strategies to increasing climate variability for the world’s poor and subsistence agriculturists, a re-thinking of economic and social support is required; one that goes beyond land use and management objectives and includes creating more permeable economic and social structures across larger political landscapes.

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