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Personalized risk messaging can reduce climate concerns

Mildenberger, Matto, Lubell, Mark, Hummel, Michelle
Global environmental change 2019 v.55 pp. 15-24
climate, climate change, environmental policy, risk perception, sea level, surveys, willingness to pay
One potential barrier to climate policy action is that individuals view climate change as a problem for people in other parts of the world or for future generations. As some scholars argue, risk messaging strategies that make climate change personally relevant may help overcome this barrier. In this article, we report a large-n survey experiment on San Francisco Bay Area residents to investigate how providing spatially-resolved risk information to individuals shapes their climate risk perceptions in the context of sea-level rise. Our results suggest that personalized risk messaging can sometimes reduce concern about sea-level rise. These experimental effects are limited to respondents who believe that climate change is happening. Further, we do not find an effect of providing local risk messages on an individual's willingness to pay for regional climate adaptation measures. Our results emphasize that local messaging strategies around sea-level rise risks may not have the clear impacts that some advocates and scholars presume.