Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Climate Change: Believing and Seeing Implies Adapting

Blennow, Kristina; Persson, Johannes; Tomé, Margarida; Hanewinkel, Marc


Knowledge of factors that trigger human response to climate change is crucial for effective climate change policy communication. Climate change has been claimed to have low salience as a risk issue because it cannot be directly experienced. Still, personal factors such as strength of belief in local effects of climate change have been shown to correlate strongly with responses to climate change and there is a growing literature on the hypothesis that personal experience of climate change (and/or its effects) explains responses to climate change. Here we provide, using survey data from 845 private forest owners operating in a wide range of bio-climatic as well as economic-social-political structures in a latitudinal gradient across Europe, the first evidence that the personal strength of belief and perception of local effects of climate change, highly significantly explain human responses to climate change. A logistic regression model was fitted to the two variables, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.07 (SD +/-0.01) to 0.81 (SD +/-0.03) for self-reported adaptive measures taken. Adding socio-demographic variables improved the fit, estimating expected probabilities ranging from 0.022 (SD +/-0.008) to 0.91 (SD +/-0.02). We conclude that to explain and predict adaptation to climate change, the combination of personal experience and belief must be considered.

Published in

2012, volume: 7, number: 11, pages: 1-7

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Landskapsarkitektur
Persson, Johannes
Lund University
Tomé, Margarida
Technical University of Lisbon
Hanewinkel, Marc
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)