Zeynep Altinay (Louisiana State University); Lauren Land (Louisiana Sea Grant)
Global climate change is one of the greatest environmental problems of our century. Despite being a global phenomenon, its impacts are local. When sea level rise, flooding, and extreme weather conditions are taken into account, climate change poses an immediate threat to coastal land. Given that these communities are most vulnerable to local impacts of climate change, why do many of these communities fail to take adaptive measures to severe coastal hazards? In order to identify what contextual factors— like wealth, education, or experience with flooding— make residents in these vulnerable areas more likely to act, we are conducting a mixed methods research design.
First, we have designed a survey instrument to investigate predictors of behavioral outcomes of climate-related risks in coastal Louisiana. In doing so, we surveyed approximately 300 residents compiled by the Sea Grant members. Results suggest that information seeking behavior is highly correlated to gender, community ties, and self-efficacy; whereas taking actual adaptive measures is mostly related to having access to technical knowledge. Second, in order to better understand how new ideas and practices regarding household level adaptations diffuse within a community, we have invited community leaders for an in-depth discussion. Results of this focus group study will help us examine current emergency preparedness patterns within the community, and identify the factors that play role in encouraging early adaption of non-structural measures. Deriving from the combined results of this quantitative and qualitative data, we will be able to identify the barriers that hinder behavioral change, and make recommendations on how to best communicate technical information regarding coastal hazards to the lay public.
Read More: Fostering Hazards Resilience in Coastal Communities