How Beliefs about Climate Change Adapt? A Natural Experiment with Evidence on Excess Sensitivity to a Weather Event
Seo Woo Lee, Hongli Feng, David A. Hennessy
March 2023 [23-WP 648]
Lee, S.W., H. Feng, and D.A. Hennessy. 2023. "How Beliefs about Climate Change Adapt? A Natural Experiment with Evidence on Excess Sensitivity to a Weather Event." Working paper 23-WP 648. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.
A prerequisite for adapting decisions to a new environment is the belief that the environment has changed. Agricultural field crop and grass-based cattle production involve long-term investments, including land conversion, buildings, drainage infrastructure, and crop-specific skill acquisition. Agricultural practices evolve to match the prevailing climate, so climate change will have major effects on the sector and timely adaptation is important for an efficient, economically sustainable production base. For a drought-prone region with variable weather and continental climate extremes, this chapter considers how a drought that occurred between two surveys of the same landowners affected responses to queries on viewpoints regarding changing weather patterns. Although drought is quite typical for the region and a single drought period is unlikely to be informative regarding climate change, we find that climate change beliefs were quite sensitive to the degree of drought experienced. The findings suggest that climate change perceptions are likely unstable, implying the need for caution when enacting policies intended to foster changing perspectives.