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Climate change in Northern Russia through the prism of public perception


This article fills a major hole in the Western literature on climate change perceptions by reporting detailed data from Russia. While Northern Russia demonstrates high rates of climate change, regional adaptation policies are yet to be established. Complicating the problem, how the Russian public perceives climate change remains poorly known. This study synthesizes data from observations, modeling, and sociological surveys, and gives insight into the public perceptions of current and projected future changes in climate. Results indicate that, similar to what is found in the Western context, unusual weather patterns and single extreme events have a deeper impact than long-term climate change on public perceptions. The majority of the population considers climate and environmental changes locally, does not associate them with global drivers, and is not prepared to act on them. Accordingly, even the best designed climate policies cannot be implemented in Northern Russia, because there is no public demand for them. To address this situation, climate scientists should work to educate members of the public about basic scientific concepts so that they begin to demand better climate policies.

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The study of the public perception of climate change in Northern Eurasia is supported by the Russian Science Foundation, Grant # 14-17-00037 to the State Hydrological Institute in St. Petersburg. Authors are thankful to colleagues in Syktyvkar (Anna Tscherbakova) and in Yakutsk (Yuriy Zhegusov) for the assistance in public surveying, and to Yelena Zhiltcova and Ksenia Shapovalova (State hydrological institute in St. Petersburg) for preparing figures and tables.

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Correspondence to Oleg Anisimov.

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Anisimov, O., Orttung, R. Climate change in Northern Russia through the prism of public perception. Ambio 48, 661–671 (2019).

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  • Adaptation policy
  • Climate change
  • Northern Russia
  • Public perception