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Matthew J. Bolton, William G. Blumberg, Lara K. Ault, H. Michael Mogil, and Stacie H. Hanes

Abstract

Weather is important to all people, including vulnerable populations (those whose circumstances include cognitive processing, hearing, or vision differences; physical disability; homelessness; and other scenarios and factors). Autism spectrum conditions affect information processing and areas of neurological functioning that potentially inhibit the reception of hazardous weather information and are of particular concern for weather messengers. People on the autism spectrum tend to score highly in tests of systemizing, a psychological process that heavily entails attention to detail and revolves around the creation of logical rules to explain things that occur in the world. This article reports the results of three preliminary studies examining weather salience—psychological attention to weather—and its potential relationships with systemizing in autistic people. Initial findings suggest that enhanced weather salience exists among autistic individuals relative to those without the condition and that this may be related to systemizing. These findings reveal some possible strategies for communicating weather to autistic populations and motivate future work on a conceptual model that blends systemizing and chaos theory to better understand weather salience.

Free access
Morris W. Foster and Emily E. Steinhilber

Abstract

The nineteenth-century experiences of yellow fever epidemics in New Orleans and Norfolk present historical parallels for how those cities, and others, are experiencing existential threats from climate change and sea level rise in the twenty-first century. In particular, the nineteenth-century “sanitary reform” movement can be interpreted as a model for challenges facing twenty-first-century “climate resilience” initiatives, including denialism and political obfuscation of scientific debates as well as tensions between short-term profit and the cost of long-term infrastructure investments and between individualism and communitarianism. The history of sanitary reform suggests that, at least in the United States, climate resilience initiatives will advance largely on a regional basis through extended local debates around these and other challenges until resilient infrastructure and practices are taken for granted, much as sanitary waterworks and sewers are today.

Open access
George C. Nche

Abstract

This study explored the role of church leaders in addressing climate change with a focus on Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches in Nigeria. The study adopted a semistructured face-to-face interview with 30 church leaders drawn from the selected denominations (i.e., 10 church leaders from each denomination). These participants were spread across five states in five geopolitical zones in Nigeria. A descriptive narrative approach was employed in the thematic organization and analysis of data. Findings showed that while all the participants across the three denominations—Catholic, Anglican, and Pentecostal churches—agreed to have heard of climate change, their perceptions of the causes of the phenomenon were narrow and varied along religious denominational lines. More Catholic participants expressed belief in anthropogenic climate change than did Anglicans and Pentecostals. Awareness creation, charity for disaster victims, and prayer were identified by the participants as the roles churches can play in addressing climate change. Although climate change action was generally poor among participants, Catholics engaged more in organizational action than did Anglicans and Pentecostals. In contrast, climate change actions were more on a personal level than on the organizational/church level within Pentecostal churches. The implications of the findings for the Church/church leaders, policy, and future research are discussed.

Free access
Michael J. Lynch, Paul B. Stretesky, and Michael A. Long

Abstract

It has been argued that the temperature increase caused by anthropogenic climate change will produce a significant increase in violent crime. Support for that prediction is often based on statistical analyses of seasonal temperature and crime data cycles across days, months, and quarters and sometimes on large geographic areas. Within-year temperature changes are very large, however, relative to the 30-yr temperature increases employed to measure climate change. In addition, because temperature trends associated with climate change vary geographically, analyses should employ small geographic units for which temperature changes are measured over yearly intervals and for long periods of time. To address these conditions, this study examined the long-term temperature–crime association for homicides in New York and London for 1895–2015. Consistent with previous studies examining seasonal weather and crime patterns, we found a positive correlation between annual homicide rates and temperature, but only at the bivariate level. This relationship became statistically insignificant in both New York and London when gross domestic product is controlled. Moreover, the bivariate relationship between temperature and homicide is statistically insignificant when correcting for nonstationarity. Thus, it does not appear that climate change has led to higher rates of homicide in New York and London over the long term. These nonfindings are important because they suggest that studies of climate change and violence might do well to consider alternative mechanisms that mediate the relationship between climate change and violence.

Free access
Esther Chiew, Rachel A. Davidson, Joseph E. Trainor, Linda K. Nozick, and Jamie L. Kruse

Abstract

An increasing number of national, state, and local programs have offered grants or other monetary incentives to encourage homeowners to retrofit their homes to reduce damage from natural hazard events. Despite this fact, little is known about how these offerings influence a homeowner’s decision to carry out such structural retrofits. This paper studies the impact that different grant program designs in particular have on the decision to undertake different types of retrofits to mitigate against hurricane damage. Using data from a survey of homeowners in the eastern half of North Carolina, we implement a mixed logit model that allows for the combination of both revealed-preference and stated-preference data available from the survey. Our findings show that offering a grant results in households being, on average, 3 times as likely to retrofit as when a grant is not offered. In addition, both the percentage of retrofit cost and the maximum dollar amount covered by the grant have a substantial impact on the probability that households choose to retrofit. Living closer to the coastline also has a significant impact on the probability that households will choose to retrofit. Counter to some previous research, we find that households who have experienced two or more hurricanes are less likely to choose to retrofit their homes. From our research, we find that the percentage of retrofit cost covered by the grant and the total cost are both important factors when deciding on the best grant program configuration.

Free access
Christian Kuhlicke, Torsten Masson, Sarah Kienzler, Tobias Sieg, Annegret H. Thieken, and Heidi Kreibich

Abstract

Previous studies have explored the consequences of flood events for exposed households and companies by focusing on single flood events. Less is known about the consequences of experiencing repeated flood events for the resilience of households and companies. In this paper, we therefore explore how multiple floods experience affects the resilience of exposed households and companies. Resilience was made operational through individual appraisals of households and companies’ ability to withstand and recover from material as well as health and psychological impacts of the 2013 flood in Germany. The paper is based on three different datasets including more than 2000 households and 300 companies that were affected by the 2013 flood. The surveys revealed that the resilience of households seems to increase, but only with regard to their subjectively appraised ability to withstand impacts on mobile goods and equipment (e.g., cars, TV, and radios). In regard to the ability of households to withstand overall financial consequences of repetitive floods, evidence for nonlinear (quadratic) trends can be found. With regard to psychological and health-related consequences, the findings are mixed but provide tentative evidence for eroding resilience among households. Companies’ resilience increased with respect to material assets but appears to decrease with respect to ability to recover. We conclude by arguing that clear and operational definitions of resilience are required so that evidence-based resilience baselines can be established to assess whether resilience is eroding or improving over time.

Open access
Jason Senkbeil, Jacob Reed, Jennifer Collins, Kimberly Brothers, Michelle Saunders, Walker Skeeter, Emily Cerrito, Saurav Chakraborty, and Amy Polen

Abstract

Hurricanes Isaac (2012), Harvey (2017), and Irma (2017) were storms with different geophysical characteristics and track forecast consistencies. Despite the differences, common themes emerged from the perception of track forecasts from evacuees for each storm. Surveys with a mixture of closed and open-ended responses were conducted during the evacuations of each storm while the storm characteristics and decision-making were fresh in the minds of evacuees. Track perception accuracy for each evacuee was quantified by taking the difference between three metrics: perceived track and official track (PT − OT), perceived track and forecast track (PT − FT), and home location and perceived track (HL − PT). Evacuees from Hurricanes Isaac and Harvey displayed a tendency to perceive hurricane tracks as being closer to their home locations than what was forecast to occur and what actually occurred. The large sample collected for Hurricane Irma provided a chance to statistically verify some of the hypotheses generated from Isaac and Harvey. Results from Hurricane Irma confirmed that evacuees expected a storm to be closer to their home locations after controlling for regional influences. Furthermore, participants with greater previous hurricane experience perceived a track as being closer to their home locations, and participants residing in zip codes corresponding with nonmandatory evacuation zones also perceived tracks as being closer to their home locations. These findings suggest that most evacuees from hurricanes in the United States appear to perceive storms as being closer to their home locations than they are and overestimate wind speeds at their homes, thus overestimating the true danger from landfalling hurricanes in many storms.

Free access
Kristin M. F. Timm, Edward W. Maibach, Maxwell Boykoff, Teresa A. Myers, and Melissa A. Broeckelman-Post

Abstract

The journalistic norm of balance has been described as the practice of giving equal weight to different sides of a story; false balance is balanced reporting when the weight of evidence strongly favors one side over others—for example, the reality of human-caused climate change. False balance is problematic because it skews public perception of expert agreement. Through formative interviews and a survey of American weathercasters about climate change reporting, we found that objectivity and balance—topics that have frequently been studied with environmental journalists—are also relevant to understanding climate change reporting among weathercasters. Questions about the practice of and reasons for presenting an opposing viewpoint when reporting on climate change were included in a 2017 census survey of weathercasters working in the United States (N = 480; response rate = 22%). When reporting on climate change, 35% of weathercasters present an opposing viewpoint “always” or “most of the time.” Their rationale for reporting opposing viewpoints included the journalistic norms of objectivity and balanced reporting (53%), their perceived uncertainty of climate science (21%), to acknowledge differences of opinion (17%), to maintain credibility (14%), and to strengthen the story (7%). These findings show that climate change reporting from weathercasters sometimes includes opposing viewpoints, and possibly a false balance, but further research is necessary. Moreover, prior research has shown that the climate reporting practices among weathercasters are evolving rapidly and so the problem of false-balance reporting may already be self-correcting.

Open access
B. S. Felzer, Carol R. Ember, R. Cheng, and M. Jiang

Abstract

Our broad research goal is to understand how human societies adapt to natural hazards, such as droughts and floods, and how their social and cultural structures are shaped by these events. Here we develop meteorological data of extreme dry, wet, cold, and warm indices relative to 96 largely nonindustrial societies in the worldwide Standard Cross-Cultural Sample to explore how well the meteorological data can be used to hindcast ethnographically reported drought and flood events and the global patterns of extremes. We find that the drought indices that are best at hindcasting ethnographically reported droughts [precipitation minus evaporation (P − E) measures] also tend to overpredict the number of droughts, and therefore we propose a combination of these two indices plus the PDSI as an optimal approach. Some wet precipitation indices (R10S and R20S) are more effective at hindcasting ethnographically reported floods than others. We also calculate the predictability of those extreme indices and use factor analysis to reduce the number of variables so as to discern global patterns. This work highlights the ability to use extreme meteorological indices to fill in gaps in ethnographic records; in the future, this may help us to determine relationships between extreme events and societal response over longer time scales than are otherwise available.

Free access
Aglaé Jézéquel, Vivian Dépoues, Hélène Guillemot, Amélie Rajaud, Mélodie Trolliet, Mathieu Vrac, Jean-Paul Vanderlinden, and Pascal Yiou

Abstract

Extreme event attribution (EEA) proposes scientific diagnostics on whether and how a specific weather event is (or is not) different in the actual world from what it could have been in a world without climate change. This branch of climate science has developed to the point where European institutions are preparing the ground for an operational attribution service. In this context, the goal of this article is to explore a panorama of scientist perspectives on their motivations to undertake EEA studies. To do so, we rely on qualitative semi-structured interviews of climate scientists involved in EEA, on peer-reviewed social and climate literature discussing the usefulness of EEA, and on reports from the EUCLEIA project (European Climate and Weather Events: Interpretation and Attribution), which investigated the possibility of building an EEA service. We propose a classification of EEA’s potential uses and users and discuss each of them. We find that, first, there is a plurality of motivations and that individual scientists disagree on which one is most useful. Second, there is a lack of solid, empirical evidence to back up any of these motivations.

Open access