Public engagement with marine climate change issues: (Re)framings, understandings and responses
Climate change impacts on marine environments have been somewhat neglected in climate change research, particularly with regard to their social dimensions and implications. This paper contributes to addressing this gap through presenting a UK focused mixed-method study of how publics frame, understand and respond to marine climate change-related issues. It draws on data from a large national survey of UK publics (N = 1,001), undertaken in January 2011 as part of a wider European survey, in conjunction with in-depth qualitative insights from a citizens’ panel with participants from the East Anglia region, UK. This reveals that discrete marine climate change impacts, as often framed in technical or institutional terms, were not the most immediate or significant issues for most respondents. Study participants tended to view these climate impacts ‘in context’, in situated ways, and as entangled with other issues relating to marine environments and their everyday lives. Whilst making connections with scientific knowledge on the subject, public understandings of marine climate impacts were mainly shaped by personal experience, the visibility and proximity of impacts, sense of personal risk and moral or equity-based arguments. In terms of responses, study participants prioritised climate change mitigation measures over adaptation, even in high-risk areas. We consider the implications of these insights for research and practices of public engagement on marine climate impacts specifically, and climate change more generally.