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Vulnerability to climate change and the desire for mitigation

Abstract

The interrelationship between vulnerability and climate change is understudied. Through this research, we fill this relative gap using rural Nevada as a case study. In 2009/2010, we surveyed 1872 ranchers and farmers, investigating their climate change-related assumptions, experiences, knowledge bases, and policy preferences. Almost 26 % responded to our mail-based survey. We created a climate change vulnerability index as a function of physical vulnerability, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity and applied it for every respondent using demographic data from the survey and secondary Geographical Information System-based data on water availability and use, and population. In our research, we investigate the influence of vulnerability and its components on climate change mitigation policy support. The results show that vulnerability is an insignificant determinant of supporting climate change mitigation policies. Both physical vulnerability and adaptive capacity play no role in determining climate change mitigation policy support. However, sensitivity to climate change decreases support of stringent policies (i.e., taxation policies), but does not influence support of non-stringent policies (i.e., technological fixes). The most prominent determinants of climate change mitigation policy support are beliefs regarding the anthropogenic causes of climate change, beliefs regarding the causal relationship between drought and climate change in Nevada, and political orientations.

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Acknowledgments

This research was generously funded by the National Science foundation (NSF) and the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) (Agreement No. EPS-0814372).

Many organizations provided assistance during the pursuit of this research project by either providing secondary data or precious technical support. Those organizations include the Dessert Research Institute (DRI), the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the Center for Environmental Systems Research, Kassel University, Germany, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. This research would have never been completed without the generosity of Nevada’s ranchers and farmers, who spent considerable time reading, contemplating and completing a survey that formed the backbone of this research project.

The first author would like to thank his mother (Fatma Safi) who supported him restlessly in his career and scientific pursuits. He would also thank his wife Fatma and his children for providing love, patience and understanding. Dr. Smith would like to thank those at UNLV who provided a supportive environment and the creative space to complete this and many associated works. He also thanks Dr. Ross Guida and Dr. David Hassenzahl for their input, and his family for their support.

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Correspondence to Ahmad Saleh Safi.

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Safi, A.S., Smith, W.J. & Liu, Z. Vulnerability to climate change and the desire for mitigation. J Environ Stud Sci 6, 503–514 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-016-0384-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-016-0384-7

Keywords

  • Climate change policy support
  • Vulnerability
  • Ranchers and farmers