Risk Perception Climate Change

RiskPerception: Climate Change

RiskPerception: Climate Change

Climatechange is a controversial issue that has resulted in theestablishment of different camps that have varying pinions withregard to the severity of climate change on nature. Individuals’belief about the environmental risks associated with climate changedetermines their risk perception. Risk perception can be defined assubjective judgements made by individuals regarding the risk linkedto certain activities, event, or technology (Steg, Berg &amp Groot,2013). The understanding of different environmental risk viewsfacilitates the process of development of risk management plans thatare more effective. Risk perceptions may also be influenced byethics, values, and morals held by individuals or the society. Inmost cases, environmental risks stimulate emotional stress, which isone of the adverse effects these risks. Climate change is one of theenvironmental risks and it refers to significant changes in weatherpatterns, which occurs over a long period of time. This paper willcompare and contrast two risk perceptions pertaining to the issue ofclimate change from two articles.

of the articles

Thearticle “American risk perception: Is climate change dangerous?”indicates climate change is a serious threat to human health andnature at large. In this article, Leiserowitz (2005) asserts thatclimate change is a significant issue of concern to the generalpublic given the large number of adverse affects (including diseases)it causes on human life. The author demonstrates this by indicatinghow members of the society perceive about the existence of differentstressors associated with climate change. The level of environmentalrisk perceived by the individual members of the society depends ondanger caused by climate change to geographically distant places andpeople as well as non-human nature. Although the Leiserowitz (2005)states that people are concerned about the effect of climate changeon their health, the general view of the article indicates that thereare other issues (such as the impact of climate change on theeconomy) of greater concern to the society than the human health.

Thearticle “Mitigating global climate change: Why are some countriesmore committed than others?” identify the key factors that makedifferent countries commit themselves more in mitigating the climatechange than others. According to Dolsak (2001) nations dedicate theirefforts and resources in reducing the rate at which climate change istaking place. The author identifies that governments allocateresources to mitigation programs that they think will reduce theglobal levels of emission of the greenhouse gases. This is becauseclimate change is a global challenge that requires the concertedefforts of all nations to ensure success in reducing its effect onhuman life and nature at large. This means that the incentive toaddress the challenge of climate change is an assurance thatmitigations will be felt at global level. This is because reducingemissions in a single country is not a guarantee that the countrywill be safe from the effects of climate change.

Similaritiesof the two perceptions

Perceptionsheld by authors of the two articles are similar in two ways. First,the two authors believe that the primary cause of climate change ifcarbon emission. The carbon dioxide emitted, especially in thefactories plays the major role in altering the global weatherconditions. For example, Dolsak (2001) states “If CO2 emissionsexceed the environment’s capacity to remove carbon from theatmosphere, the atmospheric concentrations of carbon increase” p.414. This suggests that excessive emissions of carbon dioxide intothe atmosphere are the major cause the climate change.

Secondly,Leiserowitz (2005) and Dolsak (2001) have the same view on the issueof dealing with outcomes of climate change. They both perceive thatadaptation is the most appropriate short-term solution to the effectsof climate change. They argue that the levels of greenhouse gaseshave already increased beyond the normal levels, which implies thatadaptation prior to the reduction of these gases in the atmosphere isnot an option.

Differencesin perceptions

Theperceptions held by the two authors about climate change differ inthree ways. First, Dolsak (2001) asserts that climate change hassignificant impacts on human health while Leiserowitz (2005) Statesthat there is no positive correlation between human health andclimate change. This suggests that Dolsak (2001) perceive that healthrisk caused by climate change is a major issue of concern whileLeiserowitz (2005) feels that climate change should not cause anyalarm to the stakeholders in the health sector.

Secondly,although the two authors believe climate change have adverse effectson human health, Dolsak (2001) asserts that human beings reapsubstantial benefits from the effects of climate change. For example,Dolsak (2001) states that the increase in the level of carbon in theatmosphere improves fertilization of crops (such as rice and wheat),which increase food production. This means that Dolsak (2001) doesnot perceive climate change to be of high risk in terms of its effecton plants, especially those that are used for food production.

Third,perceptions held by the two authors differ in terms of the level atwhich mitigations should be carried out. Dolsak (2001) feels thatmitigations should be carried out by all nations because controllingthe level of emissions in one country cannot make any difference inclimate change. Leiserowitz (2005), on the other hand, focuses oncountries that emit the highest levels of greenhouse gases, whichimplies that they bear the greatest responsibility in the occurrenceof climate change. Therefore, Dolsak (2001) perceives that climatechange is a high risk that requires the efforts of the entire world,while Leiserowitz (2005) perceives that climate change is a moderateissue that can be addressed by the developed world.

Environmentalstressors related to climate change

Theterm environmental stressors refer to the physical characteristics ofa given environment that result in stress for people in thatenvironment (Akerlof, 2010). The two articles address some commonstressors (such as extremes of temperature, natural calamities, andwater scarcity) that are closely associated with climate change.Dolsak (2001) emphasizes on the occurrence of serious disease as amajor stressor associated with climate change.

Personalrisk perception

Climatechange is a serious issue that affects most, if not all aspects ofhuman life. Although Leiserowitz (2005) and Dolsak (2001) suggestthat climate change affects human health its effect actual effect ismore pronounce that the way the two articles indicate. Research showsthat climate change is responsible for 61-90 cases of cancer, 49-62cases of infectious diseases, and 75-84 cases of heat-related healthchallenges. In addition, Dolsak (2001) defends climate change on thegrounds that it improves fertilization in food crops, but thetrade-off analysis on the effect of climate change shows that itleads to food scarcity more than it increases productivity (Turral,Burke &amp Faures, 2010).

Inconclusion, risk perceptions held by different people about climatechange differ greatly, but there are some instances in which peopleagree in one sense. For example, people agree that climate changeaffects human health, but the perception of the magnitude of itseffects varies. These points of agreement and disagreements create ahealthy discussion that can lead to the development of effectivepolicies.


Akerlof,K. (2010). Public perception of climate change as a human healthsurvey of the United States, Canada, and Malta. InternationalJournal of Respiratory Health, 7,2559-2606. Doi: 10.3390/ijerph7062559

Dolsak,N. (2001). Mitigating global climate change: Why are some countriesmore committed than others? PolicyStudies Journal,29 (3), 414-436.

Leiserowitz,A. (2005). American risk perceptions: Is climate change dangerous?RiskAnalysis, 25(6), 1433-42. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.2005.00690.x

Steg,L., Berg, E., &amp Groot, M. (2013). Environmentalpsychology: An introduction.Hoboken, NJ: John Willy &amp Sons.

Turral,H., Burke, J., &amp Faures, J. (2010). Climatechange, water, and food security.Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization.