AbstractWhile the need for action on climate change is urgent, individual-level behaviors to mitigate or adapt to the problem have not tracked with the increasing urgency for action. Place-based communication of climate change may catalyze action by making climate change more personally relevant. However, there is no one general public, so communication efforts can unintentionally polarize beliefs. This study aims to fill the gap in knowledge about how and why different audiences respond to place-based climate change communication, which could aid climate change communication efforts and climate scientists. Results from an experimental survey of 655 Californians and follow-up interviews indicate that prior climate change beliefs influence the effectiveness of place-based climate change communication. In particular, those who were already “concerned” about climate change, as classified by the Six Americas, were the only group to show a significant response to an intervention. This study also finds no difference between people’s responses in willingness to adapt to climate change between local and global framings. However, those exposed to a local framing were more likely to take personal-scale adaptation actions, while those exposed to a global framing were more likely to take policy-scale adaptation actions. These results, and the theories of place attachment and psychological distance, suggest that place-based communication may only be applicable for certain audiences (e.g., the concerned) and when the scale of the frame matches the scale of action.
Weather, Climate, and Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Oct 23, 2017
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