Contrary to the results of a 2006 poll, Indonesian families are highly aware of global warming, reports a study this week in Nature Climate Change. Theory suggests individuals must first observe climate change, to then perceive it as a risk and eventually adapt to it, or even take preventative actions. This study shows that the hypothesis holds true not just in the Western world, but also, potentially, in developing nations.
Erin Bohensky and her colleagues surveyed 6,310 households in East Kalimantan in 2007 and in Central Java in 2008 to investigate patterns of engagement with global warming. They found that 81.9% of respondents reported to have observed climate change, 70.7% perceive it as a risk, 38.9% are adapting to its impacts and 28.2% are taking proactive measures. The researchers used different combinations of answers to analyse the sequence of steps in engagement, such as whether families claiming to take adaptation action had previously declared to perceive climate change as a risk and before that, to have observed it. Overall, sequential engagement occurred in 89.5% of the cases. However, the most frequent combination of responses was that people observed climate change, perceived it as a risk but did not take any action (31.8%).
Based on their findings, the authors advise that Indonesian institutions should move away from basic awareness-raising strategies and identify appropriate adaptation support in line with the level of households’ engagement.