Climate Change: Believing and seeing implies adapting

Kristina Blennow, Johannes Persson, Margarida Tome, Marc Hanewinkel

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Knowledge of factors that trigger human response to climate change is crucial for effective climate change policy communication. Climate change has been claimed to have low salience as a risk issue because it cannot be directly experienced. Still, personal factors such as strength of belief in local effects of climate change have been shown to correlate strongly with responses to climate change and there is a growing literature on the hypothesis that personal experience of climate change (and/or its effects) explains responses to climate change. Here we provide, using survey data from 845 private forest owners operating in a wide range of bio-climatic as well as economic-social-political structures in a latitudinal
gradient across Europe, the first evidence that the personal strength of belief and perception of local effects of climate change, highly significantly explain human responses to climate change. A logistic regression model was fitted to the two variables, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.07 (SD 60.01) to 0.81 (SD 60.03) for self-reported adaptive measures taken. Adding socio-demographic variables improved the fit, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.022 (SD 60.008) to 0.91 (SD 60.02). We conclude that to explain and predict adaptation to climate change, the combination of personal experience and belief must be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50182
Pages (from-to)1-7
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy
  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries

Free keywords

  • climate change
  • adaptation
  • epistemic risk
  • decision-maiking
  • risk management
  • risk perception
  • risk communication
  • forest owners


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