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International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume 65, 2021, 102586

How do we adapt when we are faced with the effects of climate change?

Mary Guillarda, Oscar Navarroa, Sharol Cortesb, Ghozlane Fleury-Bahia

University of Nantes, Laboratoire de Psychologie des Pays de la Loire (LPPL), Nantes and Angers, France.


As humanity faces the increasingly intense effects of climate change, it seems crucial that individuals adapt to this environmental issue. The means of assessing climate change and its impact are linked to the manner of adapting to the situation. It is pertinent to take place attachment into account in order to understand how an individual assesses and adapts to their environment. As the effects of climate change are various, different risky situations should be studied. Thus, this study aims to establish the relations between psychological distance regarding climate change, risk perception, place attachment and adaptation, when humans are exposed to the effects of climate change (flooding, droughts). 626 inhabitants of Santa Marta (Colombia), of whom 317 are rather exposed to flooding and 309 to droughts, participated in this research. The results show that low psychological distance relative to climate change is linked to higher risk perception and to adaptive behavior. Furthermore, place attachment can explain how an individual assesses their environment and adapts to it. These relations are direct or indirect, according to the risk under consideration. These various elements lead us to discuss the importance of considering the specificities of the environment in which individuals live and the pertinence of making climate change concrete in the eyes of the populations that are concerned.

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