WATER'S GONNA RISE : SEA-LEVEL RISE RISK PERCEPTION, COMMUNICATION AND POLICY-MAKING IN NORTH CAROLINA
Covi, Michelle P.
Sea level rise is threatening coastal areas around the world with the loss of land, damage to personal and public property, ecological impacts, displacement of populations, and exacerbated risk associated with severe storm events. While the drivers of accelerated sea-level rise are global, it is at the local and regional levels that the most immediate impacts and responses occur. Planning for sea-level rise adaptation is occurring throughout the United States, but significant barriers exist, especially in places where political tensions concerning climate change science prevail. Observation of how people understand and perceive sea-level rise risk, comprehend information about their risk, and enter into processes to manage risk can provide us with better understanding of how risk can be socially amplified or attenuated, and strategies to overcome barriers to adaptation planning. To this end, this three-part dissertation investigates sea-level rise risk at multiple scales with the objective of characterizing the social dimensions of risk production and barriers to adaptation policy in northeastern North Carolina, a region with one of the largest areas of low-lying land threatened by sea-level rise in the United States, and with high social vulnerability to natural hazards among some resident populations. The first part investigates individual risk perception using an audience-driven, document evaluation methodology that assesses reader attention, comprehension, and attitudes. Comprehension difficulties confounded concern about sea-level rise hazard yielding fear, skepticism, and fatalism. The second part examines hegemonic discourses of mistrust and fear that provide insight into barriers to adaptation planning and risk reduction efforts. Fatalistic risk perceptions and risk communication scarcity increase risk in the coastal hazardscape, especially among those with the highest social vulnerability. The lack of risk information and predominant risk perceptions reinforce uneven patterns of risk developed through the marginalization of poor populations and facilitation of land use by those with social and political advantages. The third part is a case study exploration of a public participation process that a local municipality used to confront the barriers to adaptation planning. The study enables an understanding of how mainstreaming can overcome political hurdles, and how bridging organizations help move low-capacity communities past resource limitations. The multi-scalar, risk perception-oriented approach to the examination of sea-level rise risk and policy development may provide further guidance for the study of other complex, politically- charged risks within local contexts.
Covi, Michelle P.. (January 2014). WATER'S GONNA RISE : SEA-LEVEL RISE RISK PERCEPTION, COMMUNICATION AND POLICY-MAKING IN NORTH CAROLINA (Doctoral Dissertation, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4389.)
Covi, Michelle P.. WATER'S GONNA RISE : SEA-LEVEL RISE RISK PERCEPTION, COMMUNICATION AND POLICY-MAKING IN NORTH CAROLINA. Doctoral Dissertation. East Carolina University, January 2014. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/4389. August 18, 2018.
Covi, Michelle P., “WATER'S GONNA RISE : SEA-LEVEL RISE RISK PERCEPTION, COMMUNICATION AND POLICY-MAKING IN NORTH CAROLINA” (Doctoral Dissertation., East Carolina University, January 2014).
Covi, Michelle P.. WATER'S GONNA RISE : SEA-LEVEL RISE RISK PERCEPTION, COMMUNICATION AND POLICY-MAKING IN NORTH CAROLINA [Doctoral Dissertation]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; January 2014.
East Carolina University