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University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2011)

Climate change in rural Nevada : The influence of vulnerability on risk perception and environmental behavior

Safi Ahmad

Titre : Climate change in rural Nevada : The influence of vulnerability on risk perception and environmental behavior

Auteur : Safi Ahmad

Université de soutenance : University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science 2011

Résumé
In this research, I examine the impact of vulnerability on risk perception, stated willingness to adopt individual mitigation behavior, and support for climate change mitigation policies. My major research question is, "Does vulnerability to climate change increase risk perception, encourage more energy-efficient individual behavior, and enhance support for climate change mitigation policies ?" But to understand the role of vulnerability I also pursue answers to questions regarding its three components : Physical vulnerability ; sensitivity and adaptive capacity. I investigate the following sub-questions : Do physical vulnerability, and sensitivity to climate change increase risk perception, encourage more energy-efficient individual behavior, and enhance support for climate change mitigation policies ? Does greater adaptive capacity to climate change decrease risk perception, discourage more energy-efficient individual behavior, and weaken support for climate change mitigation policies ? The research population is Nevada farmers and ranchers. This research is based on my work for a Nevada NSF EPSCoR project titled, "Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change Science, Education and Outreach." Specifically, my research is a part of the activities of the Policy, Decision Making and Outreach project’s component. Within this project, Nevada ranchers and farmers were surveyed in December 2009 and August 2010 regarding their socioeconomic characteristics and climate change related knowledge, beliefs, risk perceptions, environmental behaviors and policy preferences. I utilize the data gathered in that survey in addition to GIS based secondary data on water availability and use, and population densities in Nevada. Using the GIS based secondary data, I map Water Resource Vulnerability in Nevada to perform an assessment of physical vulnerability to climate change. I assess both sensitivity and adaptive capacity to climate change using the socioeconomic data collected from the survey. Then, I aggregate the three vulnerability components into a composite vulnerability index unique to each farmer and rancher. I employ multiple regression analysis to investigate the influence of the composite vulnerability index, and its three separate components on risk perceptions. I utilize logistic regression to investigate the influence of the composite vulnerability index and its components on the willingness to adopt climate change mitigation individual actions and support for mitigation policies. The research establishes that vulnerability to climate change is not a significant factor in determining risk perception or the willingness to engage in, or support most of the climate change mitigation actions or policies. While vulnerable ranchers and farmers are more supportive of taking actions mitigating climate change ; they are less supportive of climate change mitigation polices perceived as being costly including taxing corporations and fuel.

Mots Clés : Adaptive capacity ; Climatic changes ; Climatic changes — Risk assessment ; Environmental behavior ; Farmers – Attitudes ; Global warming ; Nevada ; Physical vulnerability ; Ranchers – Attitudes ; Risk perception ; Rural conditions ; Sensitivity ; Vulnerability

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Page publiée le 22 octobre 2012, mise à jour le 2 octobre 2017