Many of us have got used to the idea of destructive climate change, but few of us are ready.
Many of us have got used to the idea that destructive climate change is coming. Still, few of us are really ready for it, thinking it’s still a good few years off.
Until floods from rising sea levels transform our downtown shops into half-filled aquariums in coastal and low-lying cities like Copenhagen, Kyiv or Malmö, we may not be too concerned. Almost unanimously, though, scientists agree that with all our current understanding of the impending destructive effects of climate change, we have been very slow in adapting to them.
Luckily, a new paper in Nature Climate Change offers a vision on how we can meet the storm before it meets us.
Building on more than 100 studies, the researchers have found 13 key factors that get people into climate adaptive behaviors. These include the presence of strong negative emotions regarding climate change; confidence in one’s ability to adapt and in the effectiveness of such actions; and belief that others are acting on climate too, all of which proved to be the strongest factors that predict high capacity for climate change adaptation in people.
The researchers have also found that perceiving climate change as personally risky tends to increase people’s intention to adapt better. Being attached to a place at risk and feeling personal responsibility also showed a certain positive correlation with adaptive behaviors. Surprisingly, good knowledge about climate change or trust in government action did not help much in building people’s capacities for climate adaptation.
While more research is needed on the factors that might be particularly effective depending on the context, the current issue provides a first comprehensive analysis that considers adaptive capacities across a range of different behaviors (like immediate response or preparedness) and hazards (like flood, wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes).
The study may be especially helpful for decisionmakers who want to increase the capacity of their citizens in dealing with climate change in both the short and long terms.