Arquivo da tag: Percepção

Extreme weather: Is it all in your mind? (USA Today)

Thomas M. Kostigen, Special for USA TODAY9:53 a.m. EDT October 17, 2015

Weather is not as objective an occurrence as it might seem. People’s perceptions of what makes weather extreme are influenced by where they live, their income, as well as their political views, a new study finds.

There is a difference in both seeing and believing in extreme weather events, according to the study in the journal Environmental Sociology.

“Odds were higher among younger, female, more educated, and Democratic respondents to perceive effects from extreme weather than older, male, less educated, and Republican respondents,” said the study’s author, Matthew Cutler of the University of New Hampshire.

There were other correlations, too. For example, people with lower incomes had higher perceptions of extreme weather than people who earned more. Those who live in more vulnerable areas, as might be expected, interpret the effects of weather differently when the costs to their homes and communities are highest.

Causes of extreme weather and the frequency of extreme weather events is an under-explored area from a sociological perspective. Better understanding is important to building more resilient and adaptive communities. After all, why prepare or take safety precautions if you believe the weather isn’t going to be all that bad or occur all that often?

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index, compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows a significant rise in extreme weather events since the 1970s, the most back-to-back years of extremes over the past decade since 1910, and all-time record-high levels clocked in 1998 and 2012.

“Some recent research has demonstrated linkages between objectively measured weather, or climate anomalies, and public concern or beliefs about climate change,” Cutler notes. “But the factors influencing perceptions of extreme or unusual weather events have received less attention.”

Indeed, there is a faction of the public that debates how much the climate is changing and which factors are responsible for such consequences as global warming.

Weather, on the other hand, is a different order of things: it is typically defined in the here and now or in the immediate future. It also is largely confined, because of its variability, to local or regional areas. Moreover, weather is something we usually experience directly.

Climate is a more abstract concept, typically defined as atmospheric conditions over a 30-year period.

When weather isn’t experiential, reports are relied upon to gauge extremes. This is when beliefs become more muddied.

“The patterns found in this research provide evidence that individuals experience extreme weather in the context of their social circumstances and thus perceive the impacts of extreme weather through the lens of cultural and social influences. In other words, it is not simply a matter of seeing to believe, but rather an emergent process of both seeing and believing — individuals experiencing extreme weather and interpreting the impacts against the backdrop of social and economic circumstances central to and surrounding their lives,” Cutler concludes.

Sophocles said, “what people believe prevails over the truth.” The consequences of disbelief come at a price in the context of extreme weather, however, as damage, injury, and death are often results.

Too many times do we hear about people being unprepared for storms, ignoring officials’ warnings, failing to evacuate, or engaging in reckless behavior during weather extremes.

There is a need to draw a more complete picture of “weather prejudice,” as I’ll call it, in order to render more practical advice about preparing, surviving, and recovering from what is indisputable: extreme weather disasters to come.

Thomas M. Kostigen is the founder of TheClimateSurvivalist.com and a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. He is the National Geographic author of “The Extreme Weather Survival Guide: Understand, Prepare, Survive, Recover” and the NG Kids book, “Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Hailstorms, Thundersnow, Hurricanes and More!” Follow him @weathersurvival, or email kostigen@theclimatesurvivalist.com.

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Local Weather Patterns Affect Beliefs About Global Warming (Science Daily)

People living in places experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures at the time they were surveyed were significantly more likely than others to say there is evidence for global warming. (Credit: © Rafael Ben-Ari / Fotolia)

ScienceDaily (July 25, 2012) — Local weather patterns temporarily influence people’s beliefs about evidence for global warming, according to research by political scientists at New York University and Temple University. Their study, which appears in theJournal of Politics, found that those living in places experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures at the time they were surveyed were significantly more likely than others to say there is evidence for global warming.

“Global climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time, but it is a complex issue with which Americans have little direct experience,” wrote the study’s co-authors, Patrick Egan of New York University and Megan Mullin of Temple University. “As they try to make sense of this difficult issue, many people use fluctuations in local temperature to reassess their beliefs about the existence of global warming.”

Their study examined five national surveys of American adults sponsored by the Pew Research Center: June, July, and August 2006, January 2007, and April 2008. In each survey, respondents were asked the following question: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?” On average over the five surveys, 73 percent of respondents agreed that Earth is getting warmer.

Egan and Mullin wondered about variation in attitudes among the survey’s respondents, and hypothesized that local temperatures could influence perceptions. To measure the potential impact of temperature on individuals’ opinions, they looked at zip codes from respondents in the Pew surveys and matched weather data to each person surveyed at the time of each poll. They used local weather data to determine if the temperature in the location of each respondent was significantly higher or lower than normal for that area at that time of year.

Their results showed that an abnormal shift in local temperature is associated with a significant shift in beliefs about evidence for global warming. Specifically, for every three degrees Fahrenheit that local temperatures in the past week have risen above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is ”solid evidence” that Earth is getting warmer. The researchers found cooler-than-normal temperatures have similar effects on attitudes — but in the opposite direction.

The study took into account other variables that may explain the results — such as existing political attitudes and geography — and found the results still held.

The researchers also wondered if heat waves — or prolonged higher-than-normal temperatures — intensified this effect. To do so, they looked at respondents living in areas that experienced at least seven days of temperatures of 10° or more above normal in the three weeks prior to interview and compared their views with those who experienced the same number of hot days, but did not experience a heat wave.

Their estimates showed that the effect of a heat wave on opinion is even greater, increasing the share of Americans believing in global warming by 5.0 to 5.9 percentage points.

However, Egan and Mullin found the effects of temperature changes to be short-lived — even in the wake of heat waves. Americans who had been interviewed after 12 or more days had elapsed since a heat wave were estimated to have attitudes that were no different than those who had not been exposed to a heat wave.

“Under typical circumstances, the effects of temperature fluctuations on opinion are swiftly wiped out by new weather patterns,” they wrote. “More sustained periods of unusual weather cause attitudes to change both to a greater extent and for a longer period of time. However, even these effects eventually decay, leaving no long-term impact of weather on public opinion.”

The findings make an important contribution to the political science research on the relationship between personal experience and opinion on a larger issue, which has long been studied with varying results.

“On issues such as crime, the economy, education, health care, public infrastructure, and taxation, large shares of the public are exposed to experiences that could logically be linked to attitude formation,” the researchers wrote. “But findings from research examining how these experiences affect opinion have been mixed. Although direct experience — whether it be as a victim of crime, a worker who has lost a job or health insurance, or a parent with children in public schools — can influence attitudes, the impact of these experiences tends to be weak or nonexistent after accounting for typical predictors such as party identification and liberal-conservative ideology.”

“Our research suggests that personal experience has substantial effects on political attitudes,” Egan and Mullin concluded. “Rich discoveries await those who can explore these questions in ways that permit clean identification of these effects.”

Egan is an assistant professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics at NYU and Mullin is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Temple University