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The subjectivity of climate change in the island. The case of Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Conferences and symposiums

KeywordsTriple Keywords
World literature
Western literature (Western countries)
Context (Linguistics)
Grammar, Comparative and general--Context
Situation (Linguistics)
Individuation (Philosophy)
Individuals (Philosophy)
Particulars (Philosophy)
Christian missions
Missions, Foreign
Appearance (Philosophy)
Political representation
Representative government and representation
Parliamentary government
Settlements, Human
Human settlements
Human habitat
Habitat, Human
Mass communication
Communication, Primitive
Island people
Island peoples
Pictorial representations
Media, The
Media, Mass
Mass media


Islands are the first to be affected by climate change (CC): their small size, generally low altitudes and external dependence increase their vulnerability to natural, particularly coastal hazards, aggravated by CC (Bertrand and Richard, 2011). Nowadays, the introduction of adaptation to CC is criticised by part of the scientific literature. Some point out that studies on island adaptation focus on the Small Insular Developing States and neglect many other vulnerable islands, leading to scientific bias (Petzold and Magnan, 2019). Others denounce a lack of articulation between local and global, as well as the lack of consideration of populations and the territorial context (Brédif et al., 2015). In response to these problems, some researchers suggest integrating the study of perceptions and representations into the adaptation process to CC (Lammel et al., 2012). In the case of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, we propose to look at the cognitive and spatial representations of island CC. To this end, individual interviews, questionnaires and mental maps were conducted, during two missions at the end of 2018 and in summer 2019, in parallel with a historical analysis of the coastal risks aggravated by CC. In Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, initial results show that the effects of CC are unevenly felt and observed, as in many territories (Friesinger and Bernatchez, 2010). Sometimes the link between the phenomenon cited and CC is not directly realised, which is the case for erosion. Other phenomena are mentioned as being related to climate change, such as a change in the wind regime, which cannot be effectively confirmed by existing analyses. The mental representation of certain hazards has changed recently: erosion, sea level rise and setback have been perceived as risks recently, probably due to the gradual promotion of CC in speeches and media with the implementation of the GRP. The phenomenon of marine submersion, although previously known, has become increasingly important. We also identified the places perceived locally as the most vulnerable to CC, as well as those considered to have the most challenges to be safeguarded in the face of CC, beyond human security alone. Firstly, there is a strong attachment to the historical places of human settlement (village of Miquelon, Ile-aux-Marins). Next, there are sectors with an environmental challenge (Isthme of Miquelon-Langlais), then those with an economic challenge (the coastline of the city of Saint-Pierre), health issues (Saint-Pierre hospital) or linked to communication networks (Saint-Pierre airport), each of the sites combining several challenges. These first results, which will be completed by October 2019, show that CC is embodied in the cognitive and spatial representations of islands. The latter are based on current and old practices and practices in the area, linked to current local problems.

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