Skip to main content

Public risk perception of climate change in Egypt: a mixed methods study of predictors and implications

Abstract

Understanding public risk perception of climate change is vital in informing policy and developing effective risk communication strategies. There is a lack of research on public risk perception of climate change in developing countries. Yet, these countries are among the most susceptible to the impacts of climatic changes. The current research provides a novel contribution to the literature by using mixed methods (an online survey and semi-structured interviews) to examine climate change risk perceptions in a sample of the Egyptian public. Findings show that the Climate Change Risk Perception Model (CCRPM) explained 19.2% of the variance in risk perception. Experiential factors (affect and personal experience) were the strongest predictors of climate change risk perception, while socio-cultural factors (value orientations) were the weakest predictors. Interviews highlighted that negative feelings featured prominently when people spoke about personal experiences with the impacts of climate change, in particular experience with flash floods. Results also showed that while participants were concerned about climate change, they appeared to have misconceptions about its causes. These quantitative and qualitative results offer important recommendations for policy and for climate science communication.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  • Agho K, Stevens G, Taylor M, Barr M, Raphael B (2010) Population risk perceptions of global warming in Australia. Environ Res 110(8):756–763

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Akerlof K, Maibach EW, Fitzgerald D, Cedeno AY, Neuman A (2013) Do people "personally experience" global warming, and if so how, and does it matter? Glob Environ Chang 23(1):81–91

    Google Scholar 

  • Attaher S, Medany M, Abou-Hadid A (2009) Possible adaptation measures of agriculture sector in the Nile Delta to climate change impacts. Adv Sci Res 3(1):123–126

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell A (1994) Climate of opinion: public and media discourse on the global environment. Discourse Soc 5(1):33–64

    Google Scholar 

  • Blocker TJ, Eckberg DL (1997) Gender and environmentalism: results from the 1993 general social survey. Soc Sci Q 78(4):841–858

    Google Scholar 

  • Bohannon J (2010) Climate change. The Nile Delta's sinking future. Science 327(5972):1444–1447

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bord RJ, O'Connor RE (1997) The gender gap in environmental attitudes: the case of perceived vulnerability to risk. Soc Sci Q 78(4):830–840

    Google Scholar 

  • Bord RJ, O'Connor RE, Fisher A (2000) In what sense does the public need to understand global climate change? Public Underst Sci 9(3):205–218

    Google Scholar 

  • Bostrom A, Morgan MG, Fischhoff B, Read D (1994) What do people know about global climate change? 1. Mental models. Risk Anal 14(6):959–970

    Google Scholar 

  • Brechin SR (2003) Comparative public opinion and knowledge on global climatic change and the Kyoto protocol: the US versus the world? Int J Sociol Soc Policy 23(10):106–134

    Google Scholar 

  • Brügger A, Dessai S, Devine-Wright P, Morton TA, Pidgeon NF (2015) Psychological responses to the proximity of climate change. Nat Clim Chang 5(12):1031–1037

    Google Scholar 

  • Capstick S, Pidgeon N, Whitehead M (2013) Public perceptions of climate change in Wales: summary findings of a survey of the Welsh public conducted during November and December 2012. Retrieved from http://psych.cf.ac.uk/understandingrisk/docs/C3W%20report%20FINAL.pdf

  • Capstick S, Whitmarsh L, Poortinga W, Pidgeon N, Upham P (2015) International trends in public perceptions of climate change over the past quarter century. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 6(1):35–61

    Google Scholar 

  • Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics. (2019) Population in governorates now. Retrieved from https://www.capmas.gov.eg/Pages/populationClock.aspx

  • Cooper SJ, Wheeler T (2017) Rural household vulnerability to climate risk in Uganda. Reg Environ Chang 17(3):649–663

    Google Scholar 

  • Corner A, Venables D, Spence A, Poortinga W, Demski C, Pidgeon N (2011) Nuclear power, climate change and energy security: exploring British public attitudes. Energy Policy 39(9):4823–4833

    Google Scholar 

  • Creswell JW (2014) Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edn. Sage publications

  • Creswell JW, Plano Clark VL (2011) Designing and conducting mixed methods research, 2nd edn. SAGE Publications, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  • Davidson DJ, Freudenburg WR (1996) Gender and environmental risk concerns: a review and analysis of available research. Environ Behav 28(3):302–339

    Google Scholar 

  • de Boer J, Botzen WW, Terpstra T (2016) Flood risk and climate change in the Rotterdam area, The Netherlands: enhancing citizen's climate risk perceptions and prevention responses despite skepticism. Reg Environ Chang 16(6):1613–1622

    Google Scholar 

  • De Groot JI, Steg L (2007) Value orientations and environmental beliefs in five countries: validity of an instrument to measure egoistic, altruistic and biospheric value orientations. J Cross-Cult Psychol 38(3):318–332

    Google Scholar 

  • Demski C, Capstick S, Pidgeon N, Sposato RG, Spence A (2017) Experience of extreme weather affects climate change mitigation and adaptation responses. Clim Chang 140(2):149–164

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunlap RE (1998) Lay perceptions of global risk public views of global warming in cross-national context. Int Sociol 13(4):473–498

    Google Scholar 

  • El-Nahry AH, Doluschitz R (2010) Climate change and its impacts on the coastal zone of the Nile Delta, Egypt. Environ Earth Sci 59(7):1497–1506

    Google Scholar 

  • El-Raey M (2010) Impacts and implications of climate change for the coastal zones of Egypt. In: Michel D, Pandya A (eds) Coastal zones and climate change. The Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC, pp 31–50

    Google Scholar 

  • Fortner RW, Lee J-Y, Corney JR, Romanello S, Bonnell J, Luthy B, Figuerido C, Ntsiko N (2000) Public understanding of climate change: certainty and willingness to act. Environ Educ Res 6(2):127–141

    Google Scholar 

  • Fowler FJ (2009) Survey research methods, 4th edn. SAGE Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Gifford R, Scannell L, Kormos C, Smolova L, Biel A, Boncu S et al (2009) Temporal pessimism and spatial optimism in environmental assessments: an 18-nation study. J Environ Psychol 29(1):1–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Hallegatte S, Green C, Nicholls RJ, Corfee-Morlot J (2013) Future flood losses in major coastal cities. Nat Clim Chang 3(9):802–806

    Google Scholar 

  • Hasan E, Khan SI, Hong Y (2015) Investigation of potential sea level rise impact on the Nile Delta, Egypt using digital elevation models. Environ Monit Assess 187(10):1–14

    Google Scholar 

  • Hassaan M, Abdrabo M (2013) Vulnerability of the Nile Delta coastal areas to inundation by sea level rise. Environ Monit Assess 185(8):6607–6616

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hay I (2010) Qualitative research methods in human geography, 3rd edn. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Henry AD (2000) Public perceptions of global warming. Hum Ecol Rev 7(1):25–30

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (2007) Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 317-357). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter6.pdf

  • IPCC (2013) Summary for policy makers. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 1-27). Cambridge and New York.: Cambridge University Press Retrieved from http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

  • IPCC (2014a) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf

  • IPCC (2014b) Coastal systems and low-lying areas. In Climate Change 2014: Impacts,Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 361–409). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-Chap5_FINAL.pdf

  • Kellstedt PM, Zahran S, Vedlitz A (2008) Personal efficacy, the information environment, and attitudes toward global warming and climate change in the United States. Risk Anal 28(1):113–126

    Google Scholar 

  • Kempton W (1991) Lay perspectives on global climate change. Glob Environ Chang 1(3):183–208

    Google Scholar 

  • Kempton W (1997) How the public views climate change. Environ Sci Policy Sustain Dev 39(9):12–21

    Google Scholar 

  • Kilroy G (2015) A review of the biophysical impacts of climate change in three hotspot regions in Africa and Asia. Reg Environ Chang 15(5):771–782

    Google Scholar 

  • Kitchin R, Tate N (2013) Conducting research in human geography: theory, methodology and practice. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Kvaløy B, Finseraas H, Listhaug O (2012) The publics’ concern for global warming: a cross-national study of 47 countries. J Peace Res 49(1):11–22

    Google Scholar 

  • Lee TM, Markowitz EM, Howe PD, Ko C-Y, Leiserowitz AA (2015) Predictors of public climate change awareness and risk perception around the world. Nat Clim Chang 5(11):1014–1020

    Google Scholar 

  • Leiserowitz A (2006) Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: the role of affect, imagery, and values. Clim Chang 77(1–2):45–72

    Google Scholar 

  • Leiserowitz A (2007) International public opinion, perception, and understanding of global climate change. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/6248846.pdf

  • Leviston Z, Price J, Bishop B (2014) Imagining climate change: the role of implicit associations and affective psychological distancing in climate change responses. Eur J Soc Psychol 44(5):441–454

    Google Scholar 

  • Löfstedt RE (1991) Climate change perceptions and energy-use decisions in Northern Sweden. Glob Environ Chang 1(4):321–324

    Google Scholar 

  • Lorenzoni I, Pidgeon NF (2006) Public views on climate change: European and USA perspectives. Clim Chang 77(1–2):73–95

    Google Scholar 

  • Lorenzoni I, Leiserowitz A, Doria M, Poortinga W, Pidgeon NF (2006) Cross-national comparisons of image associations with “global warming” and “climate change” among laypeople in the United States of America and Great Britain. Journal of Risk Research 9(03):265–281

    Google Scholar 

  • Lorenzoni I, Nicholson-Cole S, Whitmarsh L (2007) Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications. Glob Environ Chang 17(3):445–459

    Google Scholar 

  • Lujala P, Lein H, Rød JK (2015) Climate change, natural hazards, and risk perception: the role of proximity and personal experience. Local Environ 20(4):489–509

    Google Scholar 

  • Malka A, Krosnick J, Langer G (2009) The Association of Knowledge with concern about GlobalWarming: trusted information sources shape public thinking. Risk Anal 29(5):633–647

    Google Scholar 

  • Malm A (2013) Sea wall politics: uneven and combined protection of the Nile Delta coastline in the face of sea level rise. Crit Sociol 39(6):803–832

    Google Scholar 

  • Markowitz EM, Shariff AF (2012) Climate change and moral judgement. Nat Clim Chang 2(4):243–247

    Google Scholar 

  • Marlon JR, van der Linden S, Howe PD, Leiserowitz A, Woo SL, Broad K (2018) Detecting local environmental change: the role of experience in shaping risk judgments about global warming. Journal of Risk Research:1–15

  • McCarl BA, Musumba M, Smith JB, Kirshen P, Jones R, El-Ganzori A et al (2015) Climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies in Egypt’s agricultural sector. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 20(7):1097–1109

    Google Scholar 

  • McCright AM (2010) The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Popul Environ 32(1):66–87

    Google Scholar 

  • McDonald R (2016) Perceived temporal and geographic distance and public opinion about climate change. Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication

  • Menny C, Osberghaus D, Pohl M, Werner U (2011) General knowledge about climate change, factors influencing risk perception and willingness to insure. Retrieved from http://ftp.zew.de/pub/zew-docs/dp/dp11060.pdf

  • Milfont TL (2012) The interplay between knowledge, perceived efficacy, and concern about global warming and climate change: a one-year longitudinal study. Risk Anal 32(6):1003–1020

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, M (2019) ICT Indicators in Brief. Retrieved from http://www.mcit.gov.eg/Upcont/Documents/Publications_3092019000_EN_ICT_Indicators_in_brief_July_2019.pdf

  • Mohai P (1997) Gender differences in the perception of most important environmental problems. Race, Gender & Class 5(1):153–169

    Google Scholar 

  • Moser SC (2010) Communicating climate change: history, challenges, process and future directions. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 1(1):31–53

    Google Scholar 

  • Moser SC, Dilling L (2011) Communicating climate change: closing the science-action gap. The Oxford handbook of climate change and society:161–174

  • Mumpower JL, Liu X, Vedlitz A (2016) Predictors of the perceived risk of climate change and preferred resource levels for climate change management programs. Journal of Risk Research 19(6):798–809

    Google Scholar 

  • Nielsen J, D’haen SAL (2014) Asking about climate change: reflections on methodology in qualitative climate change research published in Global Environmental Change since 2000. Glob Environ Chang 24:402–409

    Google Scholar 

  • Pahl S, Harris PR, Todd HA, Rutter DR (2005) Comparative optimism for environmental risks. J Environ Psychol 25(1):1–11

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters E, Slovic P (2007) Affective asynchrony and the measurement of the affective attitude component. Cognit Emot 21(2):300–329

    Google Scholar 

  • Pew Research Center (2006) 15-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey. Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/files/pdf/252.pdf

  • Pew Research Center (2007) Pew Global Attitudes Project: Spring 2007 Survey, Survey of 47 Publics Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/files/pdf/258topline.pdf

  • Pew Research Center (2009) 25-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey Retrieved from http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/pdf/264.pdf

  • Pew Research Center (2015) Global conern about climate change, broad support for limiting emmissions. Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/files/2015/11/Pew-Research-Center-Climate-Change-Report-FINAL-November-5-2015.pdf

  • Pidgeon N (1998) Risk assessment, risk values and the social science programme: why we do need risk perception research. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 59(1):5–15

    Google Scholar 

  • Pidgeon N (2012) Public understanding of, and attitudes to, climate change: UK and international perspectives and policy. Clim Pol 12:85–106

    Google Scholar 

  • Read D, Bostrom A, Morgan MG, Fischhoff B, Smuts T (1994) What do people know about global climate change? 2. Survey studies of educated laypeople. Risk Anal 14(6):971–982

    Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds TW, Bostrom A, Read D, Morgan MG (2010) Now what do people know about global climate change? Survey studies of educated laypeople. Risk Anal 30(10):1520–1538

    Google Scholar 

  • Sampei Y, Aoyagi-Usui M (2009) Mass-media coverage, its influence on public awareness of climate-change issues, and implications for Japan’s national campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Glob Environ Chang 19(2):203–212

    Google Scholar 

  • Scannell L, Gifford R (2013) Personally relevant climate change: the role of place attachment and local versus global message framing in engagement. Environ Behav 45(1):60–85

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz SH (1992) Universals in the content and structure of values: theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. Adv Exp Soc Psychol 25:1–65

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz SH, Melech G, Lehmann A, Burgess S, Harris M, Owens V (2001) Extending the cross-cultural validity of the theory of basic human values with a different method of measurement. J Cross-Cult Psychol 32(5):519–542

    Google Scholar 

  • Slovic P, Fischhoff B, Lichtenstein S (1982) Why study risk perception? Risk Anal 2(2):83–93

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith N, Leiserowitz A (2012) The rise of global warming skepticism: exploring affective image associations in the United States over time. Risk Anal 32(6):1021–1032

    Google Scholar 

  • Smith EK, Mayer A (2018) A social trap for the climate? Collective action, trust and climate change risk perception in 35 countries. Glob Environ Chang 49:140–153

    Google Scholar 

  • Spence A, Poortinga W, Butler C, Pidgeon NF (2011) Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nat Clim Chang 1(1):46–49

    Google Scholar 

  • Spence A, Poortinga W, Pidgeon N (2012) The psychological distance of climate change. Risk Anal 32(6):957–972

    Google Scholar 

  • Stern PC, Dietz T, Kalof L (1993) Value orientations, gender, and environmental concern. Environ Behav 25(5):322–348

    Google Scholar 

  • Stern PC, Dietz T, Abel TD, Guagnano GA, Kalof L (1999) A value-belief-norm theory of support for social movements: the case of environmentalism. Hum Ecol Rev 6(2):81–97

    Google Scholar 

  • Stevenson KT, Peterson MN, Bondell HD, Moore SE, Carrier SJ (2014) Overcoming skepticism with education: interacting influences of worldview and climate change knowledge on perceived climate change risk among adolescents. Clim Chang 126(3–4):293–304

    Google Scholar 

  • Sundblad E, Biel A, Gärling T (2007) Cognitive and affective risk judgements related to climate change. J Environ Psychol 27(2):97–106

    Google Scholar 

  • Sušnik J, Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia LS, Baumert N, Kloos J, Renaud FG, La Jeunesse I et al (2015) Interdisciplinary assessment of sea-level rise and climate change impacts on the lower Nile delta, Egypt. Sci Total Environ 503:279–288

    Google Scholar 

  • Tashakkori A, Teddlie C (2010) Sage handbook of mixed methods in social & behavioral research. Sage

  • Tobler C, Visschers VH, Siegrist M (2012) Consumers’ knowledge about climate change. Clim Chang 114(2):189–209

    Google Scholar 

  • van der Linden S (2014) On the relationship between personal experience, affect and risk perception: the case of climate change. Eur J Soc Psychol 44(5):430–440

    Google Scholar 

  • van der Linden S (2015) The social-psychological determinants of climate change risk perceptions: towards a comprehensive model. J Environ Psychol 41:112–124

    Google Scholar 

  • van der Linden S, Maibach E, Leiserowitz A (2015) Improving public engagement with climate change five “best practice” insights from psychological science. Perspect Psychol Sci 10(6):758–763

    Google Scholar 

  • Wachinger G (2013) The risk perception paradox—implications for governance and communication of natural hazards. Risk Anal 33(6):1049–1065

    Google Scholar 

  • Wahlberg AA, Sjoberg L (2000) Risk perception and the media. Journal of Risk Research 3(1):31–50

    Google Scholar 

  • Weber EU (2016) What shapes perceptions of climate change? New research since 2010. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 7(1):125–134

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams SJ, Ismail N (2015) Climate change, coastal vulnerability and the need for adaptation alternatives: planning and design examples from Egypt and the USA. J Mar Sci Eng 3(3):591–606

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolf J, Moser SC (2011) Individual understandings, perceptions, and engagement with climate change: insights from in-depth studies across the world. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 2(4):547–569

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This paper was funded by the Masters Publication Scholarship 2018 offered by the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences in Victoria University of Wellington.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hayam Elshirbiny.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Availability of data and material

Not applicable.

Code availability

Not applicable.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Elshirbiny, H., Abrahamse, W. Public risk perception of climate change in Egypt: a mixed methods study of predictors and implications. J Environ Stud Sci 10, 242–254 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00617-6

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-020-00617-6

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Risk perception
  • Public opinion
  • Egypt
  • Risk communication