Public understanding of climate change and adaptation in South Australia

Authors: Scott Hanson-Easey, Peng Bi, Alana Hansen, Sue Williams, Monika Nitschke, Arthur Saniotis, Ying Zhang and Katherine Hodgetts
Year: 2013

This report contains a number of findings on how South Australians construe and rationalise climate change risk and adaptation responses. The project was comprised of two interlinked studies – focus groups and a state-wide survey that examined what constrains or promotes climate change perception and adaptation, and participant perceptions on climate change risk domains, affective imagery, adaptation ‘self-efficacy’, government responsibility and adaptation knowledge. The research found that climate was recurrently represented as a risk that was to be chiefly confronted by younger and future generations, and that it lacked salience in an everyday context, especially when contrasted to what are perceived as more urgent concerns, such as employment and income worries. A significant proportion of respondents reported believing that climate change would begin in 20 or 50 years and a significant percentage reported concern for future generations. Another notable finding is that a moderate proportion of respondents could not give an account of how they would protect themselves from heat waves, inundation, or water shortages risks that are expected to be seriously exacerbated by climate change in South Australia.

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