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Matthew D. Biddle, Ryan P. Brown, Charles A. Doswell III, and David R. Legates

Abstract

Previously published claims of large regional (northern vs southern states) differences in risks of fatality associated with tornadoes in the United States are reexamined. This new study extends earlier claims to include 1) data from a much longer time frame, 2) injuries as well as fatalities, and 3) more precise estimates of meteorological features of tornado events (specifically, a precise calculation of daytime vs nighttime and pathlength). The current study also includes formal mediation analyses involving variables that might explain regional differences. Results indicate that significant increases in the risk of fatality and injury do occur in southern states as compared with northern states. Mediation models show that these regional differences remain significant when meteorological factors of nocturnal occurrence and pathlength are included. Thus, these meteorological factors cannot explain regional differences in risk of fatality and injury, a failure that is unlikely to reflect a lack of data or a lack of precision in the measurement of potential mediators.

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Nicole S. Hutton and Michael J. Allen

Abstract

Maintaining and restoring electricity after a disaster helps to preserve the health and well-being of the elderly who are at increased risk of heat stress and may be dependent upon life-sustaining medical equipment. Mitigation policies altered in reaction to increased public interest without thorough consideration of industry-specific resources may contribute to delays in implementation and unrealized potential for emergency power coverage within individual facilities. The objectives of this research are twofold: (i) to examine the relationship between preexisting conditions of life-safety systems at facilities and date of implementation of emergency power regulation improvements and (ii) to assess the role of interagency connections—such as emergency management, fire safety, health care administration, and electricity providers—in facilitating compliance with safety regulations. A case study regarding the capacity to implement new emergency power regulations was conducted in Florida with 12 nursing homes affected by Hurricane Irma. The proposals to maintain temperatures and life-sustaining equipment under the updated regulations were not consistent among nursing homes within each county or between counties. Facilities with no preexisting life-safety violations were among the first to comply with new emergency power regulations. Those with prior violations often utilized procedural updates and external resources to comply. Nursing facilities that required additional support for remediation prior to the storm had plans approved earlier or without a second review as compared with those relying on internal resources. These results establish a baseline for the conditions associated with timely compliance including the importance of collective agency to mitigate risk.

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Claire Cambardella, Brian D. Fath, Andrea Werdenigg, Christian Gulas, and Harald Katzmair

Abstract

Cultural theory (CT) provides a framework for understanding how social dimensions shape cultural bias and social relations of individuals, including values, view of the natural world, policy preferences, and risk perceptions. The five resulting cultural solidarities are each associated with a “myth of nature”—a concept of nature that aligns with the worldview of each solidarity. When applied to the problem of climate protection policy making, the relationships and beliefs outlined by CT can shed light on how members of the different cultural solidarities perceive their relationship to climate change and associated risk. This can be used to deduce what climate change management policies may be preferred or opposed by each group. The aim of this paper is to provide a review of how CT has been used in surveys of the social aspects of climate change policy making, to assess the construct validity of these studies, and to identify ways for climate change protection policies to leverage the views of each of the cultural solidarities to develop clumsy solutions: policies that incorporate strengths from each of the cultural solidarities’ perspectives. Surveys that include measures of at least fatalism, hierarchism, individualism, and egalitarianism and their associated myths of nature as well as measures of climate change risk perceptions and policy preferences have the highest translation and predictive validity. These studies will be useful in helping environmental managers find clumsy solutions and develop resilient policy according to C.S. Holling’s adaptive cycle.

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Corrine Noel Knapp, Shannon M. McNeeley, John Gioia, Trevor Even, and Tyler Beeton

Abstract

Many rural communities in the western United States are surrounded by public lands and are dependent on these landscapes for their livelihoods. Climate change threatens to affect land-based livelihoods through both direct impacts and public land agency decision-making in response to impacts. This project was designed to understand how Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permittees, including ranching and recreation-based businesses in Colorado, are vulnerable to both climate change and management responses and how permittees and the BLM are adapting and could adapt to these changes. We conducted 60 interviews in two BLM field offices to gather permittee and agency employees’ observations of change, impacts, responses, and suggestions for adaptive actions. Data suggested that permittees are dependent on BLM lands and are sensitive to ecological and management changes and that current management policies and structures are often a constraint to adaptation. Managers and permittees are already seeing synergistic impacts, and the BLM has capacity to facilitate or constrain adaptation actions. Participants suggested increased flexibility at all scales, timelier within-season adjustments, and extension of current collaborative efforts to assist adaptation efforts and reduce impacts to these livelihoods.

Open access
John H. Sorensen, Michael K. Lindell, Earl J. Baker, and William P. Lehman

Abstract

Hurricane evacuation warnings from local officials are one of the most significant determinants of households’ evacuation departure times. Consequently, it is important to know how long after the National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues a hurricane watch or warning that local officials wait to issue evacuation warnings. The distribution of local evacuation warning issuance delays determined from poststorm assessment data shows a wide range of warning issuance delay times over an 85-h time span, although the vast majority of times fall within a 40-h window. Nearly 30% of the jurisdictions issued evacuation warnings before an NHC hurricane warning. Only 5% delayed the decision for more than 25 h after the NHC hurricane warning. The curves for warning issuance delays, using both the NHC watch and NHC warning issuance times as reference points, are very different from the warning issuance curves observed for the rapid-onset events. The hurricane data exhibit much more of an “S shape” than the exponential shape that is seen for rapid-onset data. Instead, curves for three different types of storm tracks, defined by a perpendicular/parallel dimension and a straight/meandering dimension, follow three noticeably different logistic distributions. The data also indicate that warnings were issued significantly earlier for coastal counties than for inland counties. These results have direct practical value to analysts that are calculating evacuation time estimates for coastal jurisdictions. Moreover, they suggest directions for future research on the reasons for the timing of local officials’ hurricane evacuation decisions.

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Henry P. Huntington, Emma Archer, Walker S. Ashley, Susan L. Cutter, Michael A. Goldstein, Carla Roncoli, and Tanya L. Spero
Open access
Ana Raquel Nunes

Abstract

Extreme temperatures impact human health and well-being. Yet, very little empirical evidence exists on what determines human resilience, both in general and in relation to specified extreme temperatures. This paper addresses this serious gap in knowledge by developing a quantitative measure of general resilience (i.e., the resilience of individuals to all daily life circumstances). This is complemented with qualitative elicitations of specified resilience (i.e., the resilience of individuals to a particular type of threat, stress, or event), which in this study are extreme heat and extreme cold. This research uses the “sense of coherence” (SOC) approach (i.e., Orientation to Life Questionnaire—SOC-13 scale) to develop a general resilience index (GRI) using a composite index approach and to develop assessments of heat-related resilience (HRR) and cold-related resilience (CRR) using primary data from mixed-method interviews with 52 older people living in Lisbon, Portugal. The findings show that most participants exhibited high levels of general resilience but low levels of specified resilience. In particular, resilience to cold was lower than resilience to heat. Sources of general and specified resilience were found to be dependent on cognitive, behavioral, and motivational factors in older people’s lives. The findings reveal that believing threats (e.g., extreme temperatures) are structured and ordered, perceiving that assets are available to respond to them, and feeling it is worth responding are sources of resilience. Concrete policy recommendations can be generated from this study by both central and local governments to strengthen resilience. These can take the form of programs, plans, and actions that support individuals and enable them to better deal with challenging life events such as extreme temperatures and to improve both general and specified resilience.

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Stephen B. Broomell, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, Rebecca E. Morss, and Julie L. Demuth

Abstract

Reducing fatalities from tornadoes in the southeastern United States requires considering multiple societal factors, including the risk perceptions that influence how people interpret tornado forecasts and warnings and make protective decisions. This study investigates perceptions of tornado risk in the southeastern United States, operationalized as judgments of tornado likelihood. While it is possible that residents of the Southeast could learn about tornado likelihood in their region from observing the local environment, cognitive-ecological theory from psychology suggests that such judgments of likelihood can be inaccurate, even if other aspects of local knowledge are accurate. This study analyzes data from a survey that elicited different groups’ judgments of tornado likelihood associated with different seasons, times of day, and storm system types. Results are presented from a representative sample of Southeastern residents and are compared with a sample of tornado experts (who have extensive knowledge about the likelihood of Southeastern tornadoes) and a representative sample of Great Plains residents. Overall, the analysis finds that many members of the Southeastern public deviate from the expert sample on tornado likelihood, especially for winter and overnight tornadoes. These deviations from expert opinion mimic the judgments of the Great Plains public. This study demonstrates how psychological theory and a decision science approach can be used to identify potential gaps in public knowledge about hazardous weather risks, and it reveals several such potential gaps. Further research is needed to understand the reasons for deviations between public and expert judgments, evaluate their effects on protective decision-making, and develop strategies to address them.

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David Samuel Williams

Abstract

Participatory modeling is commonly applied in climate change adaptation research to integrate stakeholder knowledge, beliefs, values, and norms into modeling processes. However, participation is not neutral, and current climate change adaptation research is tailored toward those with sufficient resources to adapt, as opposed to those most in need of adaptation. These are commonly marginalized stakeholder groups who remain on the social, economic, and political periphery, driving their vulnerability to climate change impacts. This paper presents the concept of autonomy in the context of multilevel governance for climate change adaptation before examining past participatory modeling approaches, illustrating the lack of application as an emancipatory tool for increasing the autonomy of marginalized stakeholder groups. Therefore, a list of 10 necessary conditions is presented for conducting participatory modeling for increasing the autonomy of marginalized stakeholder groups, strengthening multilevel governance for climate change adaptation. These theoretical foundations are intended to guide public policy and increase the societal impact of participatory modeling.

Significance Statement

Responding to climate change impacts requires the strengthening of multilevel governance. An important aspect is that multilevel governance is dependent on local actors having sufficient autonomy to carry out climate change adaptation actions. Participatory climate change adaptation research can contribute to enhancing autonomy for climate change adaptation in applying participatory modeling. This paper explains why this is important, how participatory modelers need to design their research, and in what way this could contribute to strengthening multilevel governance and the wider societal response to climate change impacts.

If you’re a scholar who studies the social impacts of climate change and you aren’t somehow an activist what are you really?—Professor Kian Goh, University of California, Los Angeles

Open access
Teresa A. Myers, Edward W. Maibach, Bernadette Woods Placky, Kimberly L. Henry, Michael D. Slater, and Keith L. Seitter

Abstract

Climate Matters is a localized climate change reporting resources program developed to support television (TV) weathercasters across the United States. Developed as a pilot test in one media market in 2010, it launched nationwide in 2013; in the autumn of 2019 more than 797 weathercasters were participating in the program. In this paper we present evidence of the impact of the Climate Matters program on Americans’ science-based understanding of climate change. We analyzed three sets of data in a multilevel model: 20 nationally representative surveys of American adults conducted biannually since 2010 (n = 23 635), data on when and how frequently Climate Matters stories were aired in each U.S. media market, and data describing the demographic, economic, and climatic conditions in each media market. We hypothesized that 1) reporting about climate change by TV weathercasters will increase science-based public understanding of climate change and 2) this effect will be stronger for people who pay more attention to local weather forecasts. Our results partially support the first hypothesis: controlling for market-level factors (population size, temperature, political ideology, and economic prosperity) and individual-level factors (age, education, income, gender, and political ideology), there is a significant positive association between the amount of Climate Matters reporting and some key indicators of science-based understanding (including that climate change is occurring, is primarily human caused, and causes harm). However, there was no evidence for the second hypothesis. These findings suggest that climate reporting by TV weathercasters, as enabled by the Climate Matters program, may be increasing the climate literacy of the American people.

Open access