A sensibility of the commons, defined as a community sentiment of shared, responsible decision-making and action-taking concerning a designated resource, is an essential feature of societies likely to adapt effectively to climate change. Impoverished Haiti provides a tragic counter example and instead is likely to be highly vulnerable to climate instability. Vulnerability is defined as likely impacts plus adaptive capacity. Haiti’s degraded environment and dearth of inclusive institutions is in part responsible for its current vulnerability. Its former slave economy has been followed by an oligarchic extractionist economy leaving little room for developing the social prerequisites of high adaptive capacity societies. These are: empowered citizens, inclusive institutions, a generalized morality wherein all have rights, and a sensibility of the commons and its concomitant social capital.
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