GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 254-9
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


PRINCIPATO, Sarah M.1, MONANI, Salma B.1, BONDI, Brittany1, GORCZYCA, Dori L.1 and BARLETT, Christopher2, (1)Environmental Studies, Gettysburg College, 300 N. Washington St, Box 2455, Gettysburg, PA 17325, (2)Psychology, Gettysburg College, 300 N. Washington St, Box 2455, Gettysburg, PA 17325

We conducted two studies to examine the effectiveness of a website and a film to communicate climate change. The first study evaluated the use of virtual place attachment in climate change communication. A digital, interactive website that emphasized anthropogenic climate change at Glacier National Park (GNP) in Montana was created using Wordpress. Online visitors were exposed to repeat photography of glaciers at the park, cultural history of the park, global climate change projections, a Buzzfeed quiz, and additional resources for users to explore more about the science of climate change. Participants completed a survey before and after viewing the website to gauge their perceptions of climate change concern at GNP, locally in their backyards, and globally. Quantitative survey results showed statistically significant differences between climate change concerns before and after viewing the website, with concern increasing for GNP irrespective of demographic and ideological identification. The results indicate that place attachment shows promise as a tool for online climate change communication. The second study examined the impact of watching a film to increase climate change concern and inspire eco-friendly action. We screened the documentary film, the Human Element (Prod. Earth Vision Institute, 2018), and used a pre- and post-test design to assess participants’ self-reported climate change attitudes and behavior immediately before and after watching the film. We also sent participants a third survey nine weeks after watching the film to gauge long-term impacts. In addition, between taking surveys two and three, half of participants received weekly supplemental information on climate change via a custom website, while the other half served as a control with no supplemental information. Results demonstrate a clear effect of the film on climate change attitudes in the short-term, while the longer-term effects of the film require further analysis. Additional results show that the film shifted participants’ beliefs along the Six Americas scale to the “Alarmed” category, highlighting that they are not only concerned about climate change, but also more motivated to act to address it both immediately after viewing the film and nine weeks after. These two studies both provide low-cost strategies for raising awareness and concern about climate change.