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Toby Bolsen and James N. Druckman

Abstract

A central challenge to effectively communicating scientific consensus is that people often reject information counter to their prior beliefs. People who believe that human-induced climate change is a hoax, for instance, may dismiss scientific consensus messages that human activity is a primary cause of climate change. We argue that such people can be persuaded, however. We hypothesize that validating an individual’s belief about the existence of conspiracies makes him or her more likely to accept contrary scientific consensus information. We present experimental evidence that such validation leads individuals who previously believed human-induced climate change is a hoax to become more believing in human-induced climate change following exposure to scientific consensus information.

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Raul P. Lejano, Eulito V. Casas Jr., Rosabella B. Montes, and Lynie P. Lengwa

Abstract

There is growing evidence that the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events may be increasing in conjunction with climate change. This means that many communities will encounter phenomena, such as extreme storm surge events, never before experienced by local residents. The tragic effects of Typhoon Haiyan on the city of Tacloban, Philippines, in November 2013 were attributed, in part, to the inability of routine technical bulletins to communicate the unprecedented nature of the predicted storm surge. In response, the authors construct a relational model of risk communication that suggests that narrative messages that simulate direct face-to-face communication may be more effective in spurring action. Conducting a postevent target audience study in the city of Tacloban, the authors tested the relative effectiveness of narrative-based versus technical message designs on residents who chose not to evacuate during the typhoon. Results show increased effectiveness of the narrative design vis-à-vis intent to evacuate, self-relevance and vividness of the message, and perceived authority of the message source. The study also explored factors behind noncompliance with evacuation advisories. The research supports the relational model, which captures insights from recent research on evacuation and emergency preparedness for extreme hazard events. It supports a broader effort to democratize risk communication and, in so doing, increase people’s sense of agency in preparing for these events.

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Andrea K. Gerlak, Zack Guido, Catherine Vaughan, Valerie Rountree, Christina Greene, Diana Liverman, Adrian R. Trotman, Roché Mahon, Shelly-Ann Cox, Simon J. Mason, Katharine L. Jacobs, James L. Buizer, Cedric J. Van Meerbeeck, and Walter E. Baethgen

Abstract

In many regions around the world, Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) provide seasonal climate information and forecasts to decision-makers at regional and national levels. Despite having two decades of experience, the forums have not been systematically monitored or evaluated. To address this gap, and to better inform nascent and widespread efforts in climate services, the authors propose a process-oriented evaluation framework derived from literature on decision support and climate communication around the production and use of scientific information. The authors apply this framework to a case study of the Caribbean RCOF (CariCOF), where they have been engaged in a collaborative effort to integrate climate information and decision processes to enhance regional climate resilience. The authors’ examination of the CariCOF shows an evolution toward the use of more advanced and more diverse climate products, as well as greater awareness of user feedback. It also reveals shortfalls of the CariCOF, including a lack of diverse stakeholder participation, a need for better understanding of best practices to tailor information, undeveloped market research of climate products, insufficient experimentation and vetting of communication mechanisms, and the absence of a way to steward a diverse network of regional actors. The authors’ analysis also provides insight that allowed for improvements in the climate services framework to include mechanisms to respond to changing needs and conditions. The authors’ process-oriented framework can serve as a starting point for evaluating RCOFs and other organizations charged with the provision of climate services.

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S. Bremer, M. Stiller-Reeve, A. Blanchard, N. Mamnun, Z. Naznin, and M. Kaiser

Abstract

Concepts of knowledge “co-production” are increasingly encouraged in climate research, including as an extended mode of climate science inquiry. So-called “post-normal” science offers opportunities to advance this branch of co-production research with theory and methods. However, the literature lacks material of how to “do” climate knowledge co-production as extended science, and particularly as post-normal science.

This paper presents an account of post-normal science theory and how it guided the TRACKS (Transforming Climate Knowledge with and for Society) project’s research practice, co-producing climate knowledge with communities in northeast Bangladesh. Key principles of post-normal science are described and explanations given of how they were translated into the research process, and specifically into workshops. The paper therefore provides insights for scholars and practitioners on one form of knowledge co-production, and thus contributes to this growing scholarship.

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Robert V. Rohli, Jennifer M. Collins, Robin L. Ersing, G. Douglas Lunsford, and Ashley M. Ludwig

Abstract

While much research has been invested in understanding preparedness among emergency managers during natural disasters, substantially less attention has been devoted to evaluating the level of understanding and preparedness among nonemergency management employees who must direct others during natural disasters. Among those second-tier leaders are university residential housing staff, who are responsible for the safety of thousands of youth who may be far from the influence of their family. Using varimax-rotated principal components analysis, an instrument was developed for assessing the knowledge and practices of such residential housing staff at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in the wake of Hurricane Isaac (2012). Relationships were derived between hurricane preparedness and general knowledge of hurricane meteorology, experience with past hurricanes, preparation and threat anxiety, duration of experience of the housing staff and in residing in Baton Rouge, whether the respondent’s primary address is within 120 km of a coast, and gender, ethnicity, and automobile access. Only hurricane knowledge and preparation anxiety were found to influence the preparedness construct significantly. Results suggest that the university may act as a buffer to university resident assistants and residential life professionals and, by extension, to student populations from typical vulnerabilities that the general population experiences in disaster scenarios. This research may have implications in other large organizations in which leaders or decision-makers have great influence on employees or other populations to ensure that the organizational leadership is fully equipped when faced with an oncoming hurricane or other disaster threat.

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Kristin VanderMolen and Alexandra Horangic

Abstract

Despite the risk of climate variability to agriculture, farmer use of climate information in agricultural decision-making generally remains low. Research has suggested that where farmers already have robust “repertoires” of decision-making resources adapted to some degree of climate variability, such new information may simply factor less saliently. This study asks whether farmer use of climate information increases under the occurrence of more extreme climatic events for which those repertoires lack referent—in this case, severe hydrological and related regulatory drought in the Klamath basin. Semistructured interviews with key informants of Klamath basin agriculture indicate a marked increase in farmer use of climate and climate-related information since the onset of drought in 2001. What information farmers utilize, however, depends on whether it retains its predictive and explanatory value under both types of drought. Findings highlight the need for consideration of coproduction approaches to the development of climate information if it is to serve farmers where the extremity of climate events produces changes not only in availability of but also in access to key agricultural resources.

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Abby Halperin and Peter Walton

Abstract

While 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 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 intervention matches the scale of action.

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Bogdan Antonescu and Felicia Cărbunaru

Abstract

Lightning-related fatalities in Romania are analyzed and presented for the first time using data from the Romanian National Institute of Statistics. The database contains 724 lightning fatalities that occurred between 1999 and 2015 in Romania, corresponding to an average of 42.6 fatalities per year. The annual number of lightning fatalities decreased from 65 fatalities per year between 1999 and 2003 to 23.2 fatalities per year between 2011 and 2015. The majority of fatalities occurred in May–August (42% of all fatalities) with a peak in June (31%) and July (28%). The highest fatality rates (>2.6 fatalities per million inhabitants per year) are observed over southwestern Romania, a region characterized by high values of cloud-to-ground lightning density (>2 flashes per square kilometer per year) and by a relatively high percentage (>40%) of the population living in rural areas. The majority of fatalities (78%) were reported in rural areas. Approximately 78% of the victims were male. The most vulnerable group was males between the ages of 10–39 living in rural areas. To further reduce the lightning fatality rate in Romania, currently one of the highest in Europe, the authors argue that lightning mitigation activities and information campaigns about the risks associated with lightning should be initiated in Romania.

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Jose A. Algarin Ballesteros and Nathan M. Hitchens

Abstract

During the coldest months of the year, weather systems bring a variety of winter weather to most of the continental United States in the form of snow, sleet, and freezing rain, which along with strong winds, low clouds, and reduced visibilities may create dangerous conditions. These weather conditions can result in major disruptions in air travel, leading to delays and cancellations of hundreds or thousands of flights, thus affecting the plans of millions of travelers. To assess the specific meteorological factors that prompt flight delays and cancellations in the Midwest region of the United States during wintertime, a comprehensive study was performed on nine of the largest airports (by passenger boardings) in the area.

Flight delay and cancellation data from 11 winter seasons (2005–06 to 2015–16) were collected from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) and analyzed along with climatological data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). A classification scheme was developed, and each flight was categorized according to the meteorological factor that could have prompted its delay. The results of the study revealed that visibility was the main meteorological factor affecting midwestern airports, with low ceilings as a close second. Blizzards were the main cause for flight cancellations.

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Hannah R. Torres, Kamal A. Alsharif, and Graham A. Tobin

Abstract

Particular social factors can limit or promote adaptive capacity and resilience in hazardous environments. Understanding these factors is essential for developing planning tools for risk reduction and response. In this qualitative study, focus groups are used to learn about homeowners’ experiences with a disturbance event, as well as their perceptions and expectations regarding local climate adaptation. The analysis provides insights about how risk perceptions, insurance practices, and social networks may influence individuals’ willingness and ability to cope with a disaster. Potential social limits to adaptation among participants included inaccurate risk perceptions based on experiences and feelings of helplessness, and a lack of political trust at the state level. Existing social resources that may be more formally leveraged to enhance adaptive capacity include knowledge reserves of long-term residents, strong “bonding capital,” and trust in local, nonelected government employees. The study concludes that social dimensions of adaptation, including individuals’ values, beliefs, and social norms, can have a powerful influence on the effectiveness of local adaptation planning in the face of hazards and global environmental change.

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