Understand heat vulnerability in the subtropics: Insights from expert judgements

Shih, Wan-Yu and Mabon, Leslie (2021). Understand heat vulnerability in the subtropics: Insights from expert judgements. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 63, article no. 102463.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102463

Abstract

Risk to health from extreme heat is gaining attention in scholarship and policy. Demographic and socio-economic factors affect the extent to which a person is at risk from extreme heat, whilst empirical research of social vulnerability to heat outside a ‘Western’ context is relatively limited. Many countries still rely on expert judgements to draw locally specific context for heat vulnerability assessment. Yet, their view might not be evidence-informed and the result is influenced by who are involved. This paper reflects this point by eliciting expert views of social heat vulnerability in Taiwan through an expert questionnaire survey using the Analytic Hierarchy Process method, and the result was compared to existing empirical research. Our study finds that experts consider factors related to adaptive capacity, especially societal support, as the most important; but rate gender and ethnicity as the least important. Although experts point to the importance of adaptive capacity, there are relatively few empirical studies to date in societal support, and the low priority given to gender and ethnicity also contradicts prior empirical research. For heat risk assessment, our findings show that whilst systematic elicitation of expert judgement may help to fill gaps in empirical evidence specific to the local context, caution should be paid to the significant divergence with existing empirical data and expert opinions depending on who are selected to involve.

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