Matto Mildenberger just published a new policy brief with Mark Lubell at the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior. The brief reports some initial results from a household survey of SF Bay residents regarding their perceptions of sea-level rise and floodrisks, as it relates to various types of political behavior such as voting for ballot propositions that will protect against sea-level rise.
Sea-level rise is psychologically distant concept; the majority of SF Bay residents think it will not harm them personally, while the most significant harm is for future generations and developing countries. People are more likely to support political measures to combat sea-level rise if they perceive more harm from sea-level rise, of if they have a high subjective perception of sea-level rise flood risk. However, objective flood risk based on zip-code level hydrodynamic models appears to have little influence on support for sea-level rise ballot propositions except among more politically sophisticated respondents. This highlights the importance of understanding the origins of sea-level rise risk perceptions, which are a function of both geography and individual psychological and social factors.