Climate change uncertainty among American farmers: an examination of multi-dimensional uncertainty and attitudes towards agricultural adaptation to climate change
Department or Program
A large survey of corn farmers in twelve US midwestern states (n = 6849) was used to determine the role of multiple dimensions of uncertainty on prior experience with climate change, attitudes towards climate adaptation, and use of climate outlooks in agricultural decision-making. Epistemic uncertainty refers to a perception about the level of information about a phenomenon. Aleatoric uncertainty is a perception that a phenomenon occurs at random and no new information will reduce uncertainty while response uncertainty refers to the perception of the efficacy of an action to reduce a risk. Epistemic and response uncertainty explained a large portion of variance of farmers’ attitudes towards adaptation and their willingness to use weather and climate outlook tools. Aleatoric uncertainty however did not add or added only a small portion of variance explaining farmers’ attitudes climate adaptation or use of climate tools. Our results indicate that climate scientists should not treat farmers’ uncertainty as a monolithic concept, but instead embrace its multidimensionality. We also suggest that reception of expert-led presentations or tools that have a lot of modeling data, which are often layered with statistical uncertainty, can negatively influence farmers’ model uncertainty.
Singh, A.S., F.R. Eanes, and L.S. Prokopy. (2020). Perceptions of the uncertainty of climate change in rural America: An examination of aleatoric and epistemic uncertainty and attitudes towards agricultural adaptation to climate change. Submitted to Climate Change. https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02860-w