A new study co-authored by UC Irvine adjunct professor Dana Rose Garfin shows a link between negative experiences with hurricanes and a willingness to take protective measures against climate-related threats.A new study shows a link between negative experiences with hurricanes and a willingness to take protective measures against climate-related threats.

As four potentially major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2020, study co-author Dana Rose Garfin, adjunct professor of nursing and public health, surveyed residents of Florida and Texas.

The study in Environmental Research Letters showed that negative experiences with hurricanes, hurricane risk evaluation and adaptation appraisal were positively linked with taking protective actions such as:

  • Using forecasts when making travel plans
  • Identifying shelters
  • Assembling emergency kits

Further, those who attributed their negative experiences to climate change had greater risk perception linked to a willingness to take protective measures.

The study by Garfin and lead author Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, assistant professor of earth system science at the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, could influence public health policy around climate disasters.

Their findings suggests that behavioral models of climate change behaviors should include negative personal experiences and beliefs about the causes of those experiences.

That could lead to a better understanding of the processes of individual decision making and inform interventions to promote taking protective action.

“It is critical to leverage negative climate-related experiences to elicit positive behavior change and adaption, while simultaneously acknowledging and addressing the potential negative mental health implications of exposure to such traumatic events,” Garfin says.

Contact Dana Rose Garfin ›

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