Climate change hits home

Mar 20, 2011

Direct experience of extreme weather events increases concern about climate change and willingness to engage in energy-saving behaviour, according to a new research paper published in the first edition of the journal Nature Climate Change this week.

In particular, members of the British public are more prepared to take personal action and reduce their when they perceive their has a greater vulnerability to flooding, according to the research by Cardiff and Nottingham universities.

Although no single flooding event can be attributed to , Britain has experienced a series of major events over the past decade, something which is expected to increase in years to come as a result of climate change.

Psychologist Dr Alexa Spence, now at the University of Nottingham, said: "We know that many people tend to see climate change as distant, affecting other people and places. However experiences of like flooding have the potential to change the way people view climate change, by making it more real and tangible, and ultimately resulting in greater intentions to act in sustainable ways."

The research team and Ipsos-MORI surveyed 1,822 members of the British public to test whether personal experience of flooding had affected perceptions about climate change. They also looked at whether those perceptions would affect respondents' intentions regarding energy use. The study revealed that people who reported flooding experiences had significantly different perceptions of climate change, compared to those who had not experienced flooding. These perceptions were, in turn related to a greater preparedness to save energy. In particular:

  • Those who reported flooding in their local area were more likely to be concerned about climate change, to perceive a greater local vulnerability to its impacts, and also felt more able to have an impact (perceived instrumentality) over the issue.
  • Flooding experiences were also linked to lower levels of uncertainty regarding the existence of climate change
  • Perceived instrumentality, concern, and perceived local vulnerability were found to mediate the relationship between flooding experience and preparedness to reduce energy use.
Professor Nick Pidgeon, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, who led the research team added: "This important study provides the first solid evidence for something which has been suspected for some time – that people's local experience of climate related events such as flooding will promote higher awareness of the issue. As a result it suggests new ways for engaging people with this most important and pressing of environmental issues."

Explore further: Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

More information: Spence A., Poortinga, W., Butler, C., and Pidgeon, N.F. (2011) Perceptions of climate change and willingness to act sustainably influenced by flood experiences. Nature Climate Change dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCLIMATE1059

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User comments : 9

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Deadbolt
2.9 / 5 (10) Mar 20, 2011
In many respects, it's unfortunate to see studies like this, because they can easily be interpreted as the powers that be trying to find ways of manipulating the public.
Bitflux
3.1 / 5 (9) Mar 20, 2011
Nothing new here, in short, people doesnt change their ways, until it hurts enough to push them to the next burning platform.
Polymathes
3.6 / 5 (8) Mar 20, 2011
It's not that people don't change their ways until they get hurt. It's more that people are more likely to take local events (weather) and translate their experiance into a global event. (climate) This is precisely what's happening. Deadbolt is right in that this human trait can be used to manipulate the public, and it is being done now.
ted208
2.2 / 5 (18) Mar 20, 2011
More Alarmist BS
debolton
2.1 / 5 (11) Mar 20, 2011
Notice that this "study" was done by psychologist. A major method of learning is by ROTE. If one hears-sees-reads the same message long enough and often enough they will soon believe it. This is also true in politics. Those behind the "climate change" issues are bending the truths somewhat; they are not even allowing for the natural cycles of climate and placing all of the blame on you and me.

Well, as far as I am concerned, they are just full of their own "hot air"!
PStrand
2.2 / 5 (10) Mar 20, 2011
Signs of desperation, consulting the shrinks. Just shows how much money there is in AGW.
wiyosaya
3 / 5 (2) Mar 21, 2011
@Deadbolt, I agree with you. Perhaps the "not in my backyard" syndrome still affects those so influenced.
Jimee
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 22, 2011
Gee, those billionaire scientists sticking it to the people for their craven profit motives and their "studies." Give me the judgment of the oil and coal companies anytime! They wouldn't be biased and sickeningly greedy (like tobacco, or chemical, or power, or defense, or _____________ corporations), would they? Gosh.
Caliban
not rated yet Mar 26, 2011
In many respects, it's unfortunate to see studies like this, because they can easily be interpreted as the powers that be trying to find ways of manipulating the public.


You mean the powers that be manipulating the public via their mouthpieces such as Fux Yous? Truer words were never spoken, my friend.

Propaganda/Disinformation is a neutral method, that only takes meaning from the political/social/economic agenda behind it.