Individual perceptions of climate-related environmental changes are essential to understand behavioural responses to such changes. Despite several studies on change-perception in single Pacific Small Island States (PSIS), the variance in these perceptions within and between different PSIS has so far largely been neglected. We, therefore, explored perceptions of climate-related environmental changes and attributed causes in Tuvalu, Samoa, and Tonga. Our survey (N=180) shows that perceptions of environmental changes vary considerably between the three island states and also within each country. A certain fraction of this variance can be explained by (i) geographical and climatic differences between the island states and (ii) selected socio-demographic variables. The socio-demographic factors that proved most relevant include (i) the size of the settlement in which respondents live, (ii) their distance to the sea, (iii) their interaction with nature, and (iv) their self-assessment of their own religiosity. Moreover, we found that people attribute reported changes to manifold irresponsible and unsustainable human behaviours, and to a lesser extent to natural processes and divine acts. By illustrating the variance of perceptions and also the awareness of anthropogenic causes, the study helps to communicate the diversity of local voices and offers ways for finding a basis for discussing and implementing more sustainable behaviour alternatives.
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Beyerl, K., Mieg, H. A., & Weber, E. (2019). Comparing perceptions of climate-related environmental changes for Tuvalu, Samoa, and Tonga. In C. Klöck, & M. Fink (Eds.), Dealing with climate change on small islands. Toward effective and sustainable adaptation (pp. 143-174). Göttingen: Göttingen University Press.
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