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Understanding island residents’ anxiety about impacts caused by climate change using Best–Worst Scaling: a case study of Amami islands, Japan

Abstract

Climate change poses significant risk to island communities; however, there has been limited quantitative investigation into local people’s perception toward the risk. This study applied Best–Worst Scaling (BWS) to understand residents’ anxieties about potential incidents caused by climate change in Amami islands, Japan. Through an interview with stakeholders, we selected five potential incidents for our BWS attributes: damage caused by typhoon and heavy rain (typhoon), damage caused by flood and a landslide (flood), damage from a drought (drought), damage from ciguatera fish poisoning (ciguatera), and incident caused by jellyfish (jellyfish). Changes in frequencies of the abovementioned incidents have already been observed in Japan. In 2016, we conducted a questionnaire survey of residents in Amami islands and received over 700 valid responses to BWS questions. Results showed that the average respondent was most anxious about the risk of typhoon, followed by flood, drought, ciguatera, and jellyfish. Furthermore, a comparative analysis did not find large variations among the islands in the residents’ anxiety ranking concerning the incidents, but the degrees of their anxieties were different. The Amami-Oshima residents, for example, had relatively higher anxieties about flood, whereas the Okinoerabujima residents showed higher anxiety about drought. These findings support that their risk perceptions are determined by their experience and surrounding environments. Understanding the sensitivity of residents to climate change risk will encourage stakeholders to communicate and enhance climate change adaptation in local communities.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

The data were obtained from JMA (http://www.data.jma.go.jp/fcd/yoho/typhoon/statistics/accession/amami.html)

Fig. 3

The data were obtained from JMA (http://www.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/risk/obsdl/index.php)

Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Mann–Kendall tests were performed using XLSTAT 2018 software; the results showed that no significant trends were detected.

  2. 2.

    http://www.data.jma.go.jp/cpdinfo/climate_change/.

  3. 3.

    http://www.data.jma.go.jp/gmd/risk/obsdl/index.php.

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Acknowledgement

We acknowledge financial support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (no. 16K00697), and the Ministry of the Environmental, Japan [Economics and Policy Study; ERTDF (S-15: Predicting and Assessing Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services (PANCES)]. We appreciate the Ministry of the Environment, the local governments and all respondents to the survey in the Amami Islands for their kind cooperation. We also thank Miyamoto, R., Mitsui, S., Mameno, K., and Uryu, S. for their support conducting the research.

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Correspondence to Takahiro Kubo.

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Handled by Takehisa Yamakita, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Japan.

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Kubo, T., Tsuge, T., Abe, H. et al. Understanding island residents’ anxiety about impacts caused by climate change using Best–Worst Scaling: a case study of Amami islands, Japan. Sustain Sci 14, 131–138 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0640-8

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Keywords

  • Amami islands
  • Best–Worst Scaling
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Climate change communication
  • Island resident