Experience of extreme weather affects climate change mitigation and adaptation responses

Christina Demski, Stuart Capstick, Nick Pidgeon, Robert Gennaro Sposato, Alexa Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

The winter of 2013/2014 saw a series of severe storms hit the UK, leading to widespread flooding, a major emergency response and extensive media exposure. Previous research indicates that experiencing extreme weather events has the potential to heighten engagement with climate change, however the process by which this occurs remains largely unknown, and establishing a clear causal relationship from experience to perceptions is methodologically challenging. The UK winter flooding offered a natural experiment to examine this question in detail. We compare individuals personally affected by flooding (n = 162) to a nationally representative sample (n = 975). We show that direct experience of flooding leads to an overall increased salience of climate change, pronounced emotional responses and greater perceived personal vulnerability and risk perceptions. We also present the first evidence that direct flooding experience can give rise to behavioural intentions beyond individual sustainability actions, including support for mitigation policies, and personal climate adaptation in matters unrelated to the direct experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalClimatic Change
Volume140
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science

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