Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2023-23
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2023-23
04 Sep 2023
 | 04 Sep 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESD.

Missing the (Tipping) Point: The Role of Climate Tipping Points on Public Risk Perceptions in Norway

Christina Nadeau, Manjana Milkoreit, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, and Dag Olav Hessen

Abstract. Climate tipping points are a topic of growing interest in climate research as well as a frequent communication tool in the media to warn of dangerous climate change. Despite indications that several climate tipping points may be triggered within the Paris Agreement temperature range of 1.5 °C to well below 2 °C warming above pre-industrial levels, there is limited understanding of the level of public understanding of climate tipping points, the effects this knowledge may have on perceptions of risk related to climate change, and the corresponding behavioural and policy support implications. The emerging scholarship on learning, communication, and risk perceptions related to climate tipping points provides confounding evidence regarding the psychological and behavioural effects of information about climate tipping points. It remains unknown whether and under what conditions this knowledge increases concern, urgency perceptions and action intentions, or whether it might overwhelm audiences, inducing fatalism and withdrawal from public engagement. In this study, we assess the current state of knowledge about climate tipping points among Norwegians using a nationally representative survey. We study the comparative effects of communicating about climate tipping points and climate change more generally on risk perceptions among participants with a survey-embedded experiment. We find low levels of knowledge regarding climate tipping points (<20 %). Information about tipping points had somewhat stronger effects on participants’ risk perceptions compared to general information about climate change, moderately increasing concern. We discuss our findings, and the implications, and suggest directions for further research.

Christina Nadeau, Manjana Milkoreit, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, and Dag Olav Hessen

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2023-23', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Sep 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Christina Nadeau, 08 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2023-23', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Sep 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Christina Nadeau, 08 Nov 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on esd-2023-23', Anonymous Referee #3, 06 Oct 2023
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Christina Nadeau, 08 Nov 2023
Christina Nadeau, Manjana Milkoreit, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, and Dag Olav Hessen
Christina Nadeau, Manjana Milkoreit, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, and Dag Olav Hessen

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Short summary
We investigated the role of knowledge of climate tipping points on public climate risk perceptions in Norway. We did this by conducting a national survey of a representative sample of the population. We found a low level of public knowledge of climate tipping points amongst our participants and that exposure to knowledge of climate tipping points did affect climate risk perceptions to a limited degree.
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