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Does the fact of undergoing natural hazards influence people's environmental values and ecological commitment?
Thierry Long
Rolf Kleerebezen
Nathalie Pantaléon
2021, Environmental Values, 30(5), pp.539-564
climate change
lexical analysis
natural hazards
qualitative study
This article explores urban dwellers’ perceptions of climate change and their propensity to act ecologically. It argues that a better understanding of people’s moral and psychological functioning toward ecology could guide the creation of more suitable environmental management strategies. The study is based on semi-structured interviews investigating the environmental values of urban inhabitants; the interviews were conducted in 2018, in a coastal French area affected by recurring floods. Our results showed no significant relationships among the three studied factors of experiencing natural hazards, becoming aware of sustainable issues and developing intentions to ‘act green’. In fact, these last two aspects depended mainly on informal education and socio-economic conditions. Using a ‘heuristic of fear’ (Jonas 1984) to develop sustainability practices is therefore inefficient, at best. Instead, practical efforts should be centred on upbringing, education, self-efficacy and socio-economic and political regulations, especially in a country like France where people are historically used to welcoming collective regulations by the Welfare State.
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