Climate change in Northern Russia through the prism of public perception

Abstract

This article fills a major hole in the Western literature on climate change perceptions by reporting detailed data from Russia. While Northern Russia demonstrates high rates of climate change, regional adaptation policies are yet to be established. Complicating the problem, how the Russian public perceives climate change remains poorly known. This study synthesizes data from observations, modeling, and sociological surveys, and gives insight into the public perceptions of current and projected future changes in climate. Results indicate that, similar to what is found in the Western context, unusual weather patterns and single extreme events have a deeper impact than long-term climate change on public perceptions. The majority of the population considers climate and environmental changes locally, does not associate them with global drivers, and is not prepared to act on them. Accordingly, even the best designed climate policies cannot be implemented in Northern Russia, because there is no public demand for them. To address this situation, climate scientists should work to educate members of the public about basic scientific concepts so that they begin to demand better climate policies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Anisimov, O. 2016. Challenges of the changing climate: A case study of Russia. Russian Analytical Digest 185: 2–5.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Anisimov, O., and A.B. Sherstukov. 2016. Evaluating the effect of environmental factors on permafrost dynamics in Russia. Earth Cryosphere 20: 90–99.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Anisimov, O.A., and V.A. Kokorev. 2017. Cities of the Russian North in the context of climate change. In Sustaining Russia’s Arctic cities, ed. R. Orttung, 141–174. New-York: Berghahn.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Anisimov, O.A., V.A. Kokorev, and E.L. Ziltcova. 2013. Temporal and spatial patterns of modern climatic warming: Case study of Northern Eurasia. Climatic Change 118: 871–883.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Anisimov, O.A., E.L. Zhiltcova, and V.Y. Razhivin. 2015. Predictive modeling of plant productivity in the Russian Arctic using satellite data. Izvestiya, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics 51: 1051–1059.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brooks, J., D. Oxley, A. Vedlitz, S. Zahran, and C. Lindsey. 2014. Abnormal daily temperature and concern about climate change across the United States. Review of Policy Research 31: 199–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Capstick, S., L. Whitmarsh, W. Poortinga, N. Pidgeon, and P. Upham. 2015. International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter century. WIRE’s Climate Change 6: 35–61.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Collins, L.M., and S.T. Lanza. 2010. Latent class and latent transition analysis for the social, behavioral, and health sciences. New York: Wiley. ISBN 9780470228395.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Egan, P.J., and M. Mullin. 2012. Turning personal experience into political attitudes: The effect of local weather on Americans’ perceptions about global warming. Journal of Politics 74: 796–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hagen, B., A. Middel, and D. Pijawka. 2016. European climate change perceptions: Public support for mitigation and adaptation policies. Environmental Policy and Governance 26: 170–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hale, H.E. 2006. Why not parties in Russia? Democracy, federalism, and the state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hansen, J., M. Sato, and R. Ruedy. 2012. Perception of climate change. PNAS 109: 14726–14727.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hornsey, M.J., E.A. Harris, P.G. Bain, and K.S. Fielding. 2016. Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change. Nature Climate Change 6: 622–627.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Howe, P.D., M. Mildenberger, J.R. Marlon, and A. Leiserowitz. 2015. Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA. Nature Climate Change 5: 596–603.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ingelhart, R. 1995. Public support for environmental protection: Objective problems and subjective values in 43 societies. PS. Political Science and Politics 28: 57–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Kattcov, V.M., and S.M. Semenov. 2014. Second assessment report of Roshydromet on climate change and its consequences in Russia. Moscow: Planeta.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Kaufmann, R.K., M.L. Mann, S. Gopal, J.A. Liederman, P.D. Howe, F. Pretise, X. Tang, and M. Gilmore. 2017. Spatial heterogeneity of climate change as an experiential basis for skepticism. PNAS 114: 67–71.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Kokorev, V.A., A.A. Yershova, and O.A. Anisimov. 2017. Permafrost web portal.

  19. Ledeneva, A.V. 2013. Can Russia modernise? Sistema, power networks, and informal governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lee, T.M., E.M. Markowitz, P.D. Howe, C.-Y. Ko, and A.A. Leiserowitz. 2015. Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nature Climate Change 5: 1014–1020.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Marquart-Pyatt, S.T., A.M. McCright, T. Dietz, and R.E. Dunlap. 2014. Politics eclipses climate extremes for climate change perceptions. Global Environmental Change 29: 246–257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Mokhov, I.I., B.A. Revich, V.A. Semenov, V.C. Khon, and D.A. Shaposhnikov. 2013. Effect of climate change and weather variations on the economical development and human health in the northern regions of Russia. In Fundamental problems of development of Russia: interdisciplinary synthesis, ed. V.M. Kotliakov, 88–100. Moscow: Media-Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Porfiriev, B.N. 2011. Environment and economy: interference risks. Moscow: Ankil.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Shi, J., V.H.M. Visschers, M. Siegrist, and J. Arvai. 2016. Knowledge as a driver of public perceptions about climate change reassessed. Nature Climate Change 6: 759–763.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Spence, A., W. Poortinga, C. Butler, and N.F. Pidgeon. 2011. Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nature Climate Change 1: 46–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Stephenson, S.R. 2017. Access to Arctic urban areas in flux: Opportunities and uncertainties in transport and development. In Sustaining Russia’s Arctic cities, ed. R. Orttung, 175–200. New-York: Berghahn.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Treisman, D. 2011. The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev. New York: Free Press.

    Google Scholar 

  28. van der Linden, S. 2015. The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: Towards a comprehensive model. Journal of Environmental Psychology 41: 112–124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Vaughan, D.G., J.C. Comiso, I. Allison, J. Carrasco, G. Kaser, R. Kwok, P. Mote, T. Murray, et al. 2013. Observations: Cryosphere. In Climate change 2013: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, ed. T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, et al., 317–382. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Zhiltcova, E.L., and O.A. Anisimov. 2015. Vegetation dynamics in Northern Eurasia: Analysis of observations and projection for the 21st century. Arctic 21 century. Natural Sciences: 48–59.

  31. Zolotokrylin, A.N., V.V. Vinogradova, and A.A. Sokolov. 2018. Climate change and the human life in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. Ice and Snow xxx: xxx.

Download references

Acknowledgements

The study of the public perception of climate change in Northern Eurasia is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, Grant # 14-17-00037 to the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg. Authors are thankful to colleagues in Syktyvkar (Anna Tscherbakova) and in Yakutsk (Yuriy Zhegusov) for the assistance in public surveying, and to Yelena Zhiltcova and Ksenia Shapovalova (State hydrological institute in St. Petersburg) for preparing figures and tables.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Oleg Anisimov.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (PDF 839 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Anisimov, O., Orttung, R. Climate change in Northern Russia through the prism of public perception. Ambio 48, 661–671 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1096-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Adaptation policy
  • Climate change
  • Northern Russia
  • Public perception