The Role of Risk Perceptions in Climate Change Communication: A Media Analysis of the UK Winter Floods 2015/2016
In the winter 2015/2016 a series of storms resulted in widespread flooding in northern England, damaging hundreds of properties, disrupting transport and exposing public contempt of flood risk management. The flooding was widely covered in the media. This chapter develops a methodological framework to conceptualise factors influencing risk perception related to flood events and discusses the media’s role as communicator of climate change and related risks. We demonstrate how understanding the factors that affect risk perception, including how engineered flood defences might distort risk perception and therefore risk preparedness, can be utilised by the authorities to deploy more effective risk management policy and increase individual and community preparedness. Given that increased flood risk due to climate change is a reality, and that there is evidence that this increased risk is not yet understood by the public, nor addressed by the media, we suggest that a change is needed. Not only is there a need for more dialogue between those at risk and the flood risk management authorities and between experts and the public and the media and the public, but also a need for improved risk communication delivered with greater understanding of how at-risk communities perceive risk.
Handbook of Climate Change Communication, Climate Change Management, 2, Springer International Publishing, pp.277-288, Jan 2018