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E&S Home > Vol. 19, Iss. 2 > Art. 36 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Communicating adaptation with emotions: the role of intense experiences in raising concern about extreme weather.

Eleftheria Vasileiadou, Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam; School for Innovation Studies, Eindhoven University of Technology
Wouter J. W. Botzen, Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University Amsterdam


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Adaptation to extreme weather is often considered as having a low urgency and being a low priority governance option, even though the intensity of extreme weather events is expected to increase as a result of climate change. An important issue is how to raise an adequate level of concern among individuals, policy makers, and broader decision makers in companies and organizations so that adaptation to extreme events becomes mainstream practice. We conducted 40 indepth interviews with individuals from different sectors in The Netherlands to identify the different types of experiences with extreme events, as well as the relationship between such experiences and the level of concern about extreme weather. Our results indicate that individuals who have experienced an intense, life-threatening event have a significantly higher level of concern than those without such an experience. Professional experience and secondhand experience through participating in information events do not significantly affect the level of concern about extreme events. This suggests limited intervention possibilities for communication of adaptation, as well as for raising support for adaptation measures. Framing adaptation measures in relation to personal circumstances and emotions during extreme events could help raise concern about extreme weather events, as well as societal support for adaptation measures.

Key words

adaptation; availability heuristic; extreme weather; risk communication; risk perception

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087