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Session Overview
RN22_06: Social Responses to Climate Change and Environmental Risks
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Efim Fidrya, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Location: UP.3.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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Exploring the Role of Value Orientations in Climate Change Risk Perception across Europe

Aistė Balžekienė1, José M. Echavarren2

1Kaunas university of technology, Kaunas, Lithuania; 2University Pablo Olavide, Seville, Spain

Values and worldviews have been extensively explored in environmental and risk sociology as determinants of environmental concerns or environmental and technological risk perceptions. Corner et al. (2014) identified that value orientations are related to the public engagement with climate change. Little research has been done on the influence of value orientations on risk perception of climate change, especially based on international comparative survey data. One of the extensively used measurements of human value orientations is developed and grounded by Schwartz, who conceptualizes values into the self-transcendence, conservation, self-enhancement and openness to change. Largest international survey project in Europe, European Social Survey, uses the scales of value orientations in their questionnaires.

This presentation is exploring how the main types of human values shape public risk perception of climate change and compare the effects of value orientations across European countries based on Round 8 (2016) data from European Social Survey (ESS) on climate change. This presentation is based on a research project “Public Perceptions of Climate Change: Lithuanian case in a European Comparative Perspective” Grant (No. S-MIP‐17-126) from Research Council of Lithuania.

Constructing and Borrowing Dutch Expertise in Miami: Traveling Ideas in Climate Change Risk Governance

Mitchell Timothy Kiefer

Maastricht University, University of Pittsburgh

Rotterdam and the Dutch have become models on preparedness for climate change, particularly sea-level rise and flooding. Their knowledge and technical skills are exported via engineering firms contracted out across the globe. I investigate how power brokers and experts in Miami use Dutch practices as a model for managing risks such as sea-level rise and increased flooding from climate change. Through ethnographic studies of climate change risk governance in Miami and Rotterdam, I trace the transfer of Dutch expertise from Rotterdam to its implementation in Miami. In doing so, I uncover the ways Miamians operationalize why the Dutch are succeeding in climate change preparedness and what it means to model themselves after the Dutch. I argue that experts in Miami appeal to borrowed Dutch expertise to provide assurance and certainty to the public with accounts of Dutch successes offering optimism in the face of popular pessimistic narratives. Further, while counter-narratives can be found, appeals to Dutch expertise in practice and discourse remain focused on technological achievements, largely ignoring historical and political contexts. Finally, Rotterdam is used as a model of turning climate change risks into opportunity, with Miamian power brokers envisioning a future in exporting technical solutions to Central and South America. These findings contribute to how we understand the relationship between traveling ideas and socially constructed expertise, specifically regarding climate change risk governance. In this case, we see how a place-based expertise is borrowed and instrumentally situated to achieve a veil of certainty and economic growth.

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop To Drink: Risk And Uncertainty in UK Water Risks

Martina McGuinness1, J.C. Morris2

1University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; 2Technische Universitaet Dresden, Germany

In the Anthropocene age a combination of shifting weather patterns and social changes has led to an increase in climate change related water risks. The United Kingdom has seen a growth in the frequency and severity of flood risk whilst simultaneously incubating a risk of water scarcity. So, for example, in 2017 the north-west of England and Cornwall experienced severe flooding as a result of extreme weather. At the same time, an unusually dry winter and spring 2017 resulted in depleted ground water reserves and reservoir levels leaving the south-east of Britain at risk of drought in summer 2018. Both flood and water scarcity are socially constructed risks reflecting a complex combination of ‘natural’ events with underlying conditions and vulnerability. Consequently, human activities across different levels (individual, household, business and government) are central to any discussion on water. More particularly multi-level perceptions of risk and uncertainty, as well as scale, have important implications when addressing this ‘wicked challenge’ (Rittel and Weber, 1973). Without clear insights into these, attempts to mitigate and adapt through changed water behaviours are unlikely to succeed. Utilising data gathered from an interdisciplinary project Drought Risk and You (DRY) funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, this paper draws upon theories of risk and uncertainty (Beck, 1992; 1999; Giddens, 2011) and crisis management (Pauchant & Mitroff 1990; Beck & Holzer, 2007) to examine water risk perceptions and behaviours of businesses drawn from seven river catchments in the UK and their significance for future water sustainability.

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