Public risk perceptions, understandings, and responses to climate change and natural disasters in Australia, 2010 and 2011

Authors: Joseph P. Reser, Graham L. Bradley, A. Ian Glendon, Michelle C. Ellul, and Rochelle Callaghan
Year: 2012

This report presents the findings of an Australian national survey (undertaken 15 July-8 August, 2011) designed to monitor public risk perceptions, understandings and responses to climate change and natural disasters. This 2011 survey (of 4374 new respondents) compliments a similar survey undertaken in 2010 (of 3096 respondents). This report compares findings from the 2010 and 2011 surveys, and focuses mainly on the responses of the 4347 new participants. In general, members of the 2011 sample, like their 2010 counterparts, were found to be very accepting of the reality of climate change, very concerned about implications for Australia and the world, and actively engaged in considering what climate change might mean and require in terms of individual and community adaptations and adjustments, in an altering and uncertain natural environment. Nonetheless, modest but significant changes across a number of risk perception and psychological response measures were found. When the full set of responses to the 2010 and 2011 surveys were compared, there was a tendency for many respondents to have strengthened their respective views, beliefs and concerns. Evident risk perception, issue engagement, and adaptation changes were no doubt influenced by the extreme weather events that occurred in Australia and the world over the intervening 12 month period between the two surveys, and by the ways in which these events have been discussed and reported.

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