Based on a cross-national social survey, this paper ascertains how perception of climate change is related to national wealth and adaptive capacity across 33 countries. Results indicate that citizens of wealthier countries tend to see climate change as the most important problem, but are less likely to rank it as a highly dangerous threat. We find that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita correlates positively with perceived importance of climate change, but negatively with perceived risk. Also, climate change is less likely to be seen as highly dangerous in those countries that are better prepared for climate change. These findings have important implications for climate adaptation. The relatively weaker sense of danger among the wealthiest societies may eventually lead to maladaptation to climate change. Adequate economic resources provide people collective security and protection from impending crises, but could elevate a self-assuring attitude that might prematurely reduce their caution toward the impending threat and capacity for dealing with climate uncertainties.
Climate Change Gross Domestic Product Risk Perception International Energy Agency World Value Survey
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The authors thank the editors and the four anonymous reviewers of Climatic Change for their useful comments and suggestions. The generosity of the International Social Survey Programme for making the useful data openly available is highly appreciated. This material is based upon projects funded by the Griffith Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University and the NIFA/USDA under project number SC-1700489 as presented in Technical Contribution No. 6343 of the Clemson University Experiment Station.
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