Coastal Cognizance of Climate Change - Pacific Standard

Coastal Cognizance of Climate Change

People who live closer to the shore are more likely to believe in climate change and to support regulation of carbon emissions.
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Santa Barbara, California, home to Pacific Standard. (Photo: S.Borisov/Shutterstock)

Santa Barbara, California, home to Pacific Standard. (Photo: S.Borisov/Shutterstock)

If you can feel the sea breeze on your face when you walk out of your house, you’re more cognizant of climate change.

That’s the conclusion of a new study of 5,815 New Zealanders, which finds “people living in closer proximity to the shoreline expressed greater belief that climate change is real, and greater support for government regulation of carbon emissions.” This held true even after taking into account the respondents’ age, gender, education, personal wealth, and political leanings.

The ocean "may inspire a sense of respect for the power of nature and its changeability."

The researchers, led by psychologist Taciano Milfont of Victoria University of Wellington, can’t definitively say why residents of coastal communities hold views more in line with the scientific consensus. But they suspect predictions of such disasters as flooding and sea level rise hit home for seaside dwellers in a more immediate, psychologically impactful way.

The ocean, they write in the online journal PLoS One, “may inspire a sense of respect for the power of nature and its changeability.” If so, the challenge for policymakers is to inspire similar reverence among the landlocked.

We at Pacific Standard are already convinced—but then, our offices are only about a mile from the ocean.

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