Believing in climate change has no effect on whether or not coastal homeowners are protecting their homes from climate change-related hazards, according to a new study from the University of Notre Dame.The new Obama homestead illustrates the issue well: Barack and Michelle Obama are buying a $15M estate in Martha’s Vineyard
Funded by Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN), the study analyzed data from a 2017 Coastal Homeowner Survey of 662 respondents in one of the most frequently exposed U.S. coastal communities, New Hanover County, North Carolina. Just one year after the survey, the county was affected by Hurricane Florence and was nearly missed by Hurricane Dorian in September.
The survey asked homeowners whether they believed in climate change, in human causation of climate change, or in God having a role in controlling the weather or climate. Coastal homeowners were also questioned about their knowledge of climate-related hazards, their knowledge of warming oceans and their perception of the seriousness of the impact of climate change.
“We found that climate change attitudes have little to no statistically significant effect on coastal homeowners’ actions towards home protection, homeowner action or homeowner intentions to act in the future,” said Tracy Kijewski-Correa, the Leo E. and Patti Ruth Linbeck Collegiate Chair and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences, associate professor of global affairs and co-author of the study. “This is despite the fact that with climate change, U.S. coastlines have experienced increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms and sea level rise, which has further heightened their vulnerability to waves, storm surge and high-tide flooding.”
According to the study published in Climatic Change, 81.5 percent of survey respondents believed climate change is “probably happening,” with varying degrees of confidence. The Notre Dame research team also measured for partisanship and ideology with the intention to control for questions about climate change that can tap into identity and prior political beliefs. However, after controlling for partisanship, the findings were unaffected.
“Despite persistent differences between Democrat and Republican ideologies in regards to climate change, the behavior of people from either party appears relatively similar. Neither has or intends to take action to improve the structural vulnerabilities of their homes,” said Debra Javeline, associate professor of political science at Notre Dame and lead author of the study. “Homeowners’ knowledge about climate change also held no significance, showing that providing more information and understanding may not be the main driver of convincing homeowners to reduce the vulnerabilities of their coastal homes.”
Clearly, they aren't very worried. Nor should they be:
at about 3 mm per year, it's going to take quite a few years to climb up that little rise at the water's edge.