Climate change, natural hazards, and risk perception: the role of proximity and personal experience
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLocal Environment : the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. 2015, 20 (4), 489-509. 10.1080/13549839.2014.887666
Understanding public risk perception related to possible consequences of climate change is of paramount importance. Not only does risk perception have an important role in shaping climate policy, it is also central in generating support for initiatives for adaptation and mitigation. In order to influence public knowledge and opinion, there is a need to know more about why people have diverging attitudes and perceptions related to climate change and its possible consequences. By using representative survey data for Norway and multivariate analysis, the authors of this article show that differences in attitudes and perceptions are partially explained by factors such as gender, educational background, and people's political preferences. However, an important factor explaining people's perception of climate change and its possible consequences is their direct personal experience of damage caused by climate-related events such as flooding or landslide. Furthermore, the results show that personal experience of damage has the largest impact on the respondents' belief that there will be more natural-resource hazards locally than in Norway or globally. The results also show that merely living in a more exposed area but not having a personal experience of damage does not affect the respondents' concern towards climate change.