Communicating Climate Change with Maine Natural Resource Users

Institution: University of Maine
Sponsor: Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

SnowmobileThis project evaluates the barriers to and opportunities of climate change communication in order to improve engagement with resource users. The research team is addressing the following research questions:

  • What level of knowledge do natural resource users, in this case Maine citizens who engage in outdoor recreation, have about current and potential climate change impacts on natural resources? Can characteristics of users (e.g., socio-demographics) be identified that may influence their climate change risk perceptions?
  • What type of climate change information—focusing on mitigation or adaptation—alters the monetary contribution users are willing to make towards climate work in Maine? Does type of climate change information impact other perceptions or stated behaviors?
  • Do residents who perceive climate change as a more significant threat to recreation activities contribute towards activities or programs that lessen climate impact?

The research team will engage with partners in Western Maine and also develop relationships with other entities in Maine interested in climate messaging (for example, the Maine Climate Table).

The team will design, collect, and analyze survey data that targets existing perceptions of risk, knowledge/awareness, current behaviors and perceived acknowledgement of responsibility related to climate change. Using a survey of Western Maine residents and other Maine residents in outdoor recreation regions, the team will collect data from natural resource users. The survey invitation will be sent by mail, directing participants to an online survey. This quantitative survey instrument will focus on ascertaining visitors’ current level of knowledge and existing attitudes and risk perceptions surrounding climate change, gathering specific data about perceived threats to Maine resources.

The team will use a modified version of the experiment in the survey described above that will employ a messaging and contribution experiment to determine whether informational messages about the costs of mitigation and adaptation alter contribution behavior. A sub-population of residents (n = 120) will view varying messages focused on mitigation or adaptation impacts on resources and/or costs of these measures, followed by an opportunity to contribute a portion of their participation payment to climate change efforts in Maine.

Team Leader:

Team Members:

  • Sandra De Urioste-Stone, Assistant Professor of Nature-based Tourism, School of Forest Resources
  • Laura N. Rickard, Assistant Professor of Risk Communication, Department of Communication and Journalism