The Relationships Between Social Capital and Concerns for Climate Change with Increasing Wildfire Risks in Rural = Communities in Central Oregon

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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

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Though a global issue, climate change adaptation necessitates local action. For many rural communities, challenges to available capital, infrastructure and knowledge systems need to be identified to adequately address climate change adaptability. In this study, social capital and information networks are examined as local adaptation strategies to mitigate specific risks and vulnerabilities to wildfire. We examine survey data collected from 683 owner-occupied rural central Oregon households, where localized climate change manifestations present risks to residents through increased wildfire occurrence and severity. Results indicate that social network ties to professionals knowledgeable on climate change and/or wildfires have no statistical impact on perceptions of climate change or associated local risks. Such social network ties are, however, mediated by a social capital measure of governmental trust for climate change. Results also indicate residents with higher perceptions of adaptation capacity to mobilize for collective action had greater concern for localized risks while residents with higher views of community solidarity had less concern. Clarifying these relationships adds to our understanding of social networks, community level social capital, and concerns for generalized climate change versus localized manifestations of risk as adaptation strategies for forested rural communities.


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