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All Politics are Local

Guest Blogger - Clem Samuels - Boomer - Minneapolis, Minnesota

New Hanover county is located on the Southeast coast of North Carolina. It is one of the most tropical storm/hurricane prone areas in the U. S. It has experienced 87 tropical storms or hurricanes in the past 147 years.  The most recent was in spring of 2019.

In 2017 the University of Notre Dame's Global Adoption Institute did a survey of 662 residents of New Hanover county that had experienced and been through some of the most recent storms.

Among the questions asked were:

- Did the individual believe in climate change or not?

- Did they believed in the human causation of climate change?

- Does God have a roll in controlling the weather or climate?

- What, if anything, they knew about climate-related hazards?

- What they knew about warming oceans and their impact, if any thing?

- What was their perception of the impact of climate change?

There was also information gathered on political affiliation if any, and economic status. 

It should be noted that, according to the October 2019 issue of Climate Change, 81.5% of the people surveyed felt climate change was "probably happening."

Tracy Kijewski-Correa, the Leo E. and Patti Ruth Linbeck Collegiate Chair, and co-author of the study noted "Even though they have experienced an increase in severity and intensity of storms and the rise in sea level has made them more susceptible to damage by high waves, storm surge, and high tide floods, climate change attitudes have little or no statistical significant effect on coastal homeowners action towards home protection, homeowner action, or home owners intent to act in the future."

They also noted that the difference in Democrat and Republican ideologue about climate change showed no real difference in any action taken to lessen any future home damage.

The lead author of the study, Debra Javeline, an associate professor of political science at Notre Dame noted, “homeowners’ knowledge about climate change also held no significance, showing that providing more information and understanding may not be the main driver of convincing homeowners to reduce the vulnerabilities of their coastal homes.”   The researchers found that even though homeowners are are aware of climate change and the possible damage it may cause to their dwelling, that awareness did not translate into a homeowners expectation of home damage.

  The overall conclusion was that motivating homeowners to modify their homes to lessen storm damage would be more effective if it was presented as an economic benefit, "rather than in the context of climate change."  It appears to me that although it is important to continue to educate and increase our overall knowledge of climate change, it may be more important to individualize it. Talk of overall sea level rise, increase intensity of storms, heat waves, and loss of coastline is fine. But it appears those calamities aren't the best motivator to get people to act. Many people have the attitude, 'yeah, we are going to loose some coastline'. I feel bad for those people, but I live in the upper Midwest. That won't affect me. To them, loss of coastline isn't a motivator to change what they do. I have never read how climate change will effect the Mississippi River or the cities that depend on it for water, commerce, or recreation. What is going to happen to the city lakes in Madison, Wisconsin? Farmers want know if they will be able to irrigate as they do now and what crops will thrive in their area. Do businesses involved in home insulation and snow removal in Minneapolis have a future? I believe the effect of climate change has to be localized. People have to understand how it will impact their home, their neighborhood, their employment, their health, and the personal income.


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