Original Research - Special Collection: Climate and Beliefs

Religious beliefs and climate change adaptation: A study of three rural South African communities

Simone Schuman, Jon-Vegard Dokken, Dewald van Niekerk, Ruth A. Loubser
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 10, No 1 | a509 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v10i1.509 | © 2018 Simone Schuman-Eloff, Jon-Vegard Dokken, Dewald Van Niekerk, Ananka R. Loubser | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 June 2017 | Published: 16 October 2018

About the author(s)

Simone Schuman, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster Studies, North-West University, South Africa
Jon-Vegard Dokken, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo, Norway
Dewald van Niekerk, Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster Studies, North-West University, South Africa
Ruth A. Loubser, School of Philosophy, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

This article argues that religious beliefs significantly influence a community’s understanding and experience of climate change adaptation, indicating the need for an inclusion of such information in climate change adaptation education. Data were collected using the Q-method, whereby recurring statements were identified from semi-structured interviews with participants from three rural communities in the North-West province of South Africa: Ikageng, Ventersdorp and Jouberton. The research found that community members who regard themselves as religious (overall of the Christian faith) fall under two groups: the religious determinists or fatalists, who see climate as a natural process that is governed by God, and religious participants who deny this ‘naturalness’ and acknowledge humans’ impact on the climate.

Keywords

adaptation; beliefs; climate change; religious beliefs; South Africa

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