How do farmers view climate change and it's challenges?

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Meredith T. Niles, Environmental Science and Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Global climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest collective action environmental problems facing our world.  Nevertheless, international treaties to mitigate emissions continue to be largely ineffective, and global emissions are rising.  Simultaneously, climate change adaptations are becoming increasingly necessary to adapt socio-environmental systems to already occurring and future potential changes.  Strategies are needed that enable communities to effectively manage their emissions and adapt to the potential changes regions face.  Such is particularly true for agriculture, which is both a contributor to global climate change (approximately 14% of global emissions) and also a potential victim to its impacts across the globe.  The individual nature of farming makes climate change mitigation and adaptation a challenging proposition, and farmers are an important target group.  Using data from farmer interviews (n=48) and surveys (n=652) in New Zealand and California I discuss how local versus global perceptions of climate change and its risks influence adaptation and mitigation behaviors differently based on cooperative versus personal costs and benefits.  I also highlight how farmer’s perceptions of top-down regulations and unequal perceived costs are a hindrance to climate change mitigation.  I suggest strategies that may encourage farmers to adopt mitigation and adaptation practices and ways in which polycentric policies can be best implemented in light of empirical evidence.