In response to agriculture's vulnerability and contribution to climate change, many governments are developing initiatives that promote the adoption of mitigation and adaptation practices among farmers. Since most climate policies affecting agriculture rely on voluntary efforts by individual farmers, success requires a sound understanding of the factors that motivate farmers to change practices. Recent evidence suggests that past experience with the effects of climate change and the psychological distance associated with people's concern for global and local impacts can influence environmental behavior. Here we surveyed farmers in a representative rural county in California's Central Valley to examine how their intention to adopt mitigation and adaptation practices is influenced by previous climate experiences and their global and local concerns about climate change. Perceived changes in water availability had significant effects on farmers' intention to adopt mitigation and adaptation strategies, which were mediated through global and local concerns respectively. This suggests that mitigation is largely motivated by psychologically distant concerns and beliefs about climate change, while adaptation is driven by psychologically proximate concerns for local impacts. This match between attitudes and behaviors according to the psychological distance at which they are cognitively construed indicates that policy and outreach initiatives may benefit by framing climate impacts and behavioral goals concordantly; either in a global context for mitigation or a local context for adaptation.
Haden, V.R.,* Niles, M.T.*, Lubell, M., Perlman, J., Jackson, L.E. (2012) Global and local concerns: What attitudes and beliefs motivate farmers to mitigate and adapt to climate change? PLoS ONE. 7 (12) * Both authors contributed equally to this manuscript