Dr. Joel Finnis, Department of Geography
Dr. Atanu Sarkar, Faculty of Medicine
Dr. Mark C.J. Stoddart, Department of Sociology
Bachelor of Science Honors Degree in Psychology (2014), Colorado State University
Title of Project:
Perceiving Climate Variability: A community based study to identify frameworks for understanding and interpretation
Research Project Description:
Natural climate variability masks much of the human influence of anthropogenic climate change (Trenberth, 2012), and while natural warming cycles may coincide with simplified climate change beliefs among the general public, natural cooling cycles are open to criticism by skeptics when left neglected by the scientific community responsible for communicating its relevance. For this reason, it is necessary to encourage a more comprehensive understanding of climate and climate change among the general public, which can ultimately assist in preventing the public from developing overgeneralized portrayals about climate change, and will foster attitudes which embrace the complexity inherent to climate change science (Weber, 2016). Prior to engaging individuals in more complex discussions about climate change, it’s crucial to understand local level experiences and perceptions of climate, particularly of climate variability.
My research will use an exploratory approach to begin to identify the language used by the public to describe variability in their region and explore the influence of variability on attitudes and perceptions of climate. To examine this social component of climate research we will focus on the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has experienced considerable inter-annual and decadal variability over the past century (Finnis & Bell, 2015). This research will be the foundation for establishing effective methodology for analyzing local climate perceptions, which may ultimately assist in developing culturally and geographically relevant methods of engaging the public in scientific and meaningful discussions about climate change.
Finnis, J., & Bell, T. (2015). An analysis of recent observed climate trends and variability in Labrador. The Canadian Geographer, 59, 151-166.
Trenberth, K. E. (2012). Framing the way to relate climate extremes to climate change. Climatic change, 115, 283-290. doi: 10.1007/s10584-012-0441-5
Weber, E. U. (2016). What shapes perceptions of climate change? New research since 2010. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 7(1), 125-134. doi: 10.1002/wcc.377
• Climate change communication
• Environmental justice
• Community engagement
• Culture-specific consumption behavior