In the past decade, some progress has been made in evaluating potential socioeconomic impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on coastal and marine systems. This progress, however, has not been as substantial as that relating to biogeophysical impacts; nor has it been especially comprehensive (Turner et al., 1995, 1996).
To date, emphasis has been in three areas. First, research has focused on the coastal zone itself (we are not aware of any studies of the socioeconomic impact of climate change on open-ocean marine ecosystems). Second, there has been an emphasis on the potential socioeconomic impact of sea-level rise but little on any other climate change variables. Third, emphasis has been on economic effects, not on impacts on social and cultural systems.
These emphases are evident in the following review, in which we consider socioeconomic impacts initially as a component of the methodology for vulnerability assessment and then through economic cost-benefit analyses of coastal zones in general and infrastructure developments in particular. In these cases, "benefits" derive from the inclusion of adaptation options - primarily shore protection - into the analyses to derive some net cost. Finally, we consider attempts that have been made to "value" natural systems, as well as the potential social and cultural impacts of climate change.
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