Our paper on pro-environmental behaviors in Copenhagen, Denmark has been published in Cities (Impact factor: 5.834). Below please find the abstract:
"What makes one green in a green capital? Previous research on actions to combat climate change using large national samples identifies how socio-demographic attributes and attitudes and belief profiles condition an individual’s propensity to take actions to improve the environment. Our approach investigates a smaller and more specific context – Copenhagen, Denmark – as a way to unlock particular pathways that animate individuals to combat climate change in a city considered to be one of the world’s greenest. Using a survey of approximately 1,000 Copenhageners, we compare socio-demographic characteristics with attitudinal and belief profiles to see how each explanation predicts four pro-environmental behaviors. We find that attitudes and beliefs, especially with environmental concern and political ideology, tend to be more associated with pro-environmental behaviors compared to socio-demographic characteristics. We conclude by discussing how even in the context of a green capital, familiar pathways to pro-environmental actions are found."
Our new paper has been published in Energy Research & Social Science (Impact factor: 6.834). Below please find the abstract:
"Climate change poses unprecedented risks to human society. Ample scientific evidence suggests that greenhouse gas emissions are the primary contributor to climate change. Large-scale greenhouse gas emissions are mainly caused by the consumption of fossil fuels. Thus, promoting renewable energy is one key strategy to mitigate these emissions and combat climate change. In this study, we investigate some potential driving forces of renewable energy deployment. We analyze panel data for 118 countries worldwide from 1995 to 2015. Results show that countries that are more vulnerable to climate change and have less carbon-intensive economies consume higher shares of renewable energy in their total energy consumption. We have explained the effects of the carbon tax even though its influence is statistically insignificant. Thus, this study complements the literature by identifying the impact of these three factors on renewable energy deployment. The findings also imply that countries would become more supportive of renewable energy when their economy is less intertwined with fossil fuels and there are relevant policies that offer incentives on renewables."
Our new paper on perceptions of sea level rise has been published in Climatic Change (Impact factor: 4.743). Below please find the abstract:
"Sea level rise (SLR) in the 21st century poses fundamental risks to coastal residents. The U.S. Gulf of Mexico Coast (Gulf Coast) is among the regions experiencing the most rapid relative SLR. Beyond its increasing exposure to SLR and related coastal flooding, the Gulf Coast is home to a large population and displays high social vulnerability. How the coastal population in this vulnerable region perceives the impending risks posed by SLR warrants further examination. Do coastal residents’ perceptions of SLR conform to the scientific projections? We adopt an integrative approach based on a 2019 survey merged with contextual data including percentage of population living within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and social vulnerability at the county level, both of which are extracted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We find that public risk perceptions of sea level change are influenced by political predisposition, with Republicans being less likely than Democrats to expect SLR in the future. Moreover, SLR remains temporally distant issue among coastal residents. We then directly compare public expectations and scientific estimations of SLR in five states of the U.S. Gulf Coast region and find that coastal residents in states that have experienced faster SLR in the past are more optimistic about future SLR by underestimating its magnitude compared to those experiencing slower SLR. Moreover, we find that people likely conflate the severity with likelihood of SLR risk. The contextual force represented by percentage of population living within the SFHA designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can significantly influence individuals’ estimations of future SLR, with higher percentages leading to higher estimates. We suspect that the SFHA has become a powerful risk communication tool that influences coastal residents’ judgments about future risk.
Figure 3. Comparison of public estimation with scientific estimation of SLR at five locations in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, Florida Panhandle, and Florida Peninsula along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Percentages assigned at lower level and upper level in each figures represent percentages of respondents who estimated future SLR to be lower than the 5th and higher than the 95th scientific estimates, respectively (Source: Shao et al. in press).
our new paper has been published in Climate Policy (impact factor: 5.085). Below please find the abstract:
"Floods increasingly threaten disadvantaged communities around the globe. When limited financial resources are available, nature-based and community-based incremental adaptation that codifies existing actions and behaviors can help protect people and assets through risk reduction management. These adaptation measures mainly rely on non-financial capital that can be appropriate alternatives when financial resources are limited, especially within the context of disadvantaged communities. There are, however, challenges in implementing such adaptation measures, including differential power relationships that might lead to misallocation of benefits. We propose a polycentric governance framework that can enhance stakeholder engagement and mobilize various forms of non-financial capital to trigger a web of incremental adaptation measures through four support mechanisms: technological investment, institutional enhancement, knowledge production, and environmental protection. We further discuss how various facilitating factors, including i) communication and transportation infrastructure, ii) flexible laws/regulations, iii) risk communication, and iv) environmental restoration, can increase the likelihood of success in application of the framework. A successful application of the proposed framework also necessitates development of a research agenda around suitable non-financial metrics for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the proposed strategies. In addition, learning from new developments in general societal protection and resilience in communities with relatively large financial capital and experiences of practicing polycentric governance in disadvantaged communities may facilitate the implementation of polycentric governance-based disaster risk reduction globally."
Our new paper, entitled "Approval of Political Leaders can Slant Evaluation of Political Issues: Evidence from Public Concern for Climate Change in the U.S." has been published in Climatic Change. You can find the abstract below:
"Climate change has become one of the signature issues that divides the American public. Numerous empirical studies of the past two decades have identified the politicization of this issue. In recent years, the concurrence of rising extreme weather events and uptick in public concern for climate change has led to common speculation that the former may drive up the latter. Using a nationally representative survey dataset combined with climate extremes data including extreme heat, extreme precipitation, and mild drought or worse, we use Structural Equation Modeling to examine how politics and climate extremes altogether shape American public concern for climate change. In addition to confirming politicization of climate change, we find that approval of President Trump not only promotes skeptical climate change perceptions but also serve as an intervening amplifier of these perceptions for Republicans and conservatives. Thus, one’s concern for climate change is partially explained by their political identification and partially explained by their levels of approval of Trump. With the 2020 presidential election underway, it remains to be seen how attitudes toward presidential candidates can affect climate change perceptions and support for climate policies. The widely speculated role of climate extremes however fails to show significant effects in views towards climate change. We provide explanations for this insignificant finding. The study ends by calling for more studies to further investigate into the drivers of formation of opinions towards climate change."
The following figure is from the accepted manuscript (Shao and Hao 2020 a)
9/16/2019 1 Comment
The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), located in Annapolis, Maryland, invites applications from early-career scholars (≤ 4 years post Ph.D.) for two-year postdoctoral fellowships that begin June 1, 2020. This postdoctoral fellow is expected to work with a Collaborating Mentor on "projects that have the potential to advance understanding of socio-environmental systems."
I am interested in serving as a Collaborating Mentor, working with a postdoc fellow on a range of topics that would fall within the socio-environmental systems. Specific topics could include:
1. social response to climate extremes
2. climate adaptation decision making
3. community resilience to environmental hazards in an urban setting or at a regional scale
To learn more about this opportunity, please visit the SESYNC webiste.
If you are interested in working with me, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a new paper, we used Google Trends to reveal the spatiotemporal patterns of US drought awareness. This paper has been published in Palgrave Communications (a Nature journal, now Humanities and Social Sciences Communications). Here is more information about this paper:
Article Title: Spatiotemporal Patterns of US Drought Awareness
Drought is a creeping climatological phenomenon with persistent precipitation deficits. The intangible and gradual characteristics of drought cause a lack of social response during the onset. The level of awareness of a local drought increases rapidly through mass media reports and online information searching activities when the drought reaches its peak severity. This high level of local drought awareness drives concerns for water shortage and support for water policy. However, spatiotemporal patterns of national-scale drought awareness have never been studied due to constraints imposed by time-consuming and costly survey data collection and surveys' limited sample sizes.
Here, we present the national-scale study to reveal the spatiotemporal patterns of drought awareness over the contiguous United States (CONUS) using Google Trends data and an advanced statistical technique, Principal Component Analysis (PCA). Results show that the first two PC modes can explain 48% (38% for PC1 and 10% for PC2; see Figures below) of the total variance of state-level drought awareness. We find that the PC1 mode relates to a national pattern of drought awareness across the CONUS. The spatiotemporal patterns further imply that residents in the Northeastern US region are the most aware of the emergence of drought, regardless of the geographic location of the occurrence. The results illustrate how search engine queries and social media data can help develop an effective and efficient plan for drought mitigation in the future.
The following Figure comes from Kim et al. (2019):
Figure 1: Major principle components of state-level drought awareness and state-level drought risk over the contiguous United States. Temporal correlations of Drought Awareness from the first two major modes with individual state-level drought awareness ((c) and (d), respectively) and individual state-level drought risk ((e) and (f), respectively). White colored states depict the states with insignificant temporal correlation at the 99% confident level.
Figure 2: State-level correlation analysis of drought awareness and drought risk. Colors in the grid cells depict temporal correlation coefficients of state-level drought awareness (left triangle) and state-level drought risk (right triangle) of one state with those of the rest 48 states. To assist interpretation, areas that depict interstate relationships within the region (green colored boundaries) and across regions (blue colored boundaries) are shown in the legend box at upper-left corner.
Our paper on public support for flood mitigation was just published on Environmental Research Letters (impact factor: 6.192). Here is the abstract:
"What is the decision-making mechanism people rely upon to mitigate flood risk? Applying Bayesian Network modelling to a comprehensive survey dataset for the U.S. Gulf Coast, we find that the overall support for flood mitigation can be inferred from flood insurance purchase behavior (i.e., without insurance vs. with insurance purchased mandatorily, voluntarily, or both). Therefore, we propose a theoretical decision-making mechanism composed of two dimensions including informed flood risk and sense of insecurity. The informed flood risk is the primary determinant on one's overall support for flood mitigation. Risk mitigation decisions are largely contingent on the level of risk that is effectively conveyed to individuals. Additionally, sense of insecurity plays a moderate role in determining individuals' overall support for flood mitigation. The sense of insecurity can move people toward overall support for mitigation, but the effect is not as large as the informed risk. Results of this study have fundamental policy implications. The flood risk informed by Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps not only provides the compulsory basis for flood insurance purchase but also determines individuals' overall support for flood mitigation. Flood map inaccuracy can immensely mislead individuals' overall risk mitigation decision. Meanwhile, this flood risk mitigation decision-making mechanism inferred from a survey data in the U.S. Gulf Coast needs to be tested and validated elsewhere."
In this paper, we proposed a flood mitigation decision-making mechanism (please see below). One implication of this study is that "the importance of risk information in overall flood mitigation decisions. Although the flood premiums do not reflect real risks due to discounts, flood hazard zones have effectively conveyed the risk to homeowners. Risk signals can thus be delivered to homeowners through various means."
A year after Hurricane Harvey, the decisions to rebuild can affect the future. I just published an analysis article on the Conversation. Here is the last paragraph:
"My recent research shows that even with their flaws, FEMA flood maps influence decisions to purchase flood insurance and overall support for flood mitigation. Policy makers need to seriously consider how to accurately communicate increasing flood risks to the public. Reverting to old flood maps and granting variances to promote development is a recipe for more disasters down the road."
Hat tip to Emily Powell at the National Wildlife Federation, who brought this situation to my attention.
Now that the national effort to curb carbon emission may stall, all eyes are on cities. Cities are both major contributors to CO2 emission and in the front line to face the dire consequences of climate change since "90 percent of urban areas in the world are coastal." Coastal areas are under imminent threats of sea level rise, flooding, storm surge, etc. This actually creates a situation to avoid the tragedy of the commons. Big cities around the world like the C40 group have already started making serious attempts to cut carbon emission, which gives us hope that the daunting global problem can find a local solution.