Extreme Weather Experience leads to Energy Efficiency Action

EXPERIENCING extreme weather events increases concern about climate change and a willingness to take energy saving actions a new study reveal.

The study by the UK’s Cardiff and Nottingham Universities, published in the first edition of Nature Climate Change, found that people are more prepared to take energy efficiency action to reduce energy use when they recognise that their area, district or city has vulnerability to flooding.

The study found that in Britain, although no single flooding event can be accredited to climate change, the country has seen a series of and more major floods over the past 10 years, with the prediction that these will increase in the future due to climate change.

Psychologist Alexa Spence, from The University of Nottingham said: "We know that many people tend to see climate change as distant, affecting other people and places.

“However, experiences of extreme weather events like flooding have the potential to change the way people view climate change, by making it more real and tangible, and ultimately resulting in greater intentions to act in sustainable ways."

The researchers and market research company Ipsos-MORI surveyed 1,822 people to assess if experience of flooding affects awareness of climate change.

They also studied whether this awareness would affect the intentions of those surveyed regarding energy use, revealing that those experienced flooding had significantly heightened perceptions of climate change when comparison were made with those who had not experienced flooding.

The greater awareness of climate change was discovered to lead greater preparedness for reducing energy demand.

Professor Nick Pidgeon, of the School of Psychology at Cardiff University, led the research team and commented: "This important study provides the first solid evidence for something which has been suspected for some time - that people's local experience of climate related events such as flooding will promote higher awareness of the issue. As a result, it suggests new ways for engaging people with this most important and pressing of environmental issues."

With extreme weather being suffered globally, and seemingly increasing, from the UK through to Australia, energy efficiency and sustainability needs to be at the forefront of people’s minds, hence reducing the impact of climate change.

Picture: Severe floods in York in late 2000. If ordering a whisky in the Kings Head, you are likely to get water with it! © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Tuesday 22nd March 2011

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