Engaging coastal communities in climate change has never been more important. Improvements in policy are needed to combat climate change impacts on vulnerable coastal communities. In order to improve policy, local authority officers and policy makers need to be engaged alongside communities.
Making climate change local explains how climate change will impact local areas. This encourages positive behaviour change because there is a focus on personally relevant and meaningful information (Monroe et al, 2017). We need to be aware of presenting a problem with no information to tackle it. Eco-anxiety causes stress and depression as people feel overwhelmed by the consequences of climate change. “Unpredictability, uncertainty and uncontrollability” were seen as contributing factors to eco-anxiety (Panu, 2020). It seems therefore responsible to provide information on actions to tackle climate change alongside educational materials on the issues themselves.
With this background, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum have created an educational resource which focuses on climate change changes, impacts and actions in Pembrokeshire: https://www.pembrokeshirecoastalforum.org.uk/coastal-climate-change/. The online tool ArcGIS StoryMaps was used as it allows interaction and a visual representation of relevant local issues. Such use of visual representation was seen to be important for climate change engagement (Monroe et al, 2017).
“Education is the most important weapon which you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela.
Climate change has to be explained in easily accessible language so people understand what the issue is and how to tackle the consequences. This was the aim of the first section of the StoryMap. It was crucial to keep the language simple, however, links within the text have been provided if people want to find out more. Young people seem to have a pessimistic view of climate change and the future on a global scale (Ojala, 2018). They are worried about climate change, however, there is a gap between their concern and their engagement (Ojala, 2018). A study conducted in Greek secondary schools showed that students understood impacts of climate change but were confused by solutions and causes (Liarakou, Athanasiadis, Gavrilakis,2011). It was clear that the students didn’t know the specific scientific knowledge that caused climate change and this stunted further progression towards positive climate mindset and actions. It is hoped by having resources such as this StoryMap that students can have access to explanations of key factors of climate change.
Impacts and Changes
The second section of the StoryMap was designed to show the impacts and changes in Pembrokeshire. The section is highly visual with local photographs being used to make the information easily digestible and relevant. Three main changes were looked at; sea level rise, increased number of storms and ocean acidification. This was done to keep the impacts simple and relatable. Throughout the StoryMap they were kept in the same order and explained clearly.
Interactive Maps- Changes, Impacts and Actions
Maps are powerful visual learning resources. They allow users to visually see where the changes and impacts are happening in their local areas. They also allow for changes that happen far away to be shown and then linked to the local area, for example the melting of ice in Greenland. The changes listed all have simple symbols with the aim to aid understanding. By clicking on a symbol, the change is shown at a specific point on the map and information explaining the change further is shown, including links to more information. The “Impacts” and “Actions” interactive maps follow the same structure. The symbols and information for the explanations have been adapted from a card-based climate change resource developed for the CCAT project by Alex Cameron-Smith. The resource has been used in communities in Pembrokeshire to help identify the most important changes, impacts and actions at a local level. The maps and card resource are examples of interactive learning which are important for engagement, understanding and action (Creutzig, Kapmeier, 2020).
Climate Change and Ecosystems
There is clearly a climate emergency but there is also a very serious biodiversity emergency (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, 2019). This section of the StoryMap aims to explain the importance of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, the impacts on them due to climate change and their role in climate adaptation at the coast. This is explained in the StoryMap using sand dunes and managed realignment and seagrass. The section is highly visual which attempts to increase the relevance of the section to people in Pembrokeshire and therefore their engagement with the topic (Nicholson-Cole, 2005).
Coastal Defence Options and Sustainable Communities
The StoryMap has highlighted many issues that will affect vulnerable coastal communities. This section aims to explain the direction of the future coastal management in their area. Something which a lot of people may be worried about but don’t know where to find the relevant information. The “Sustainable Communities” section informs people about the key terms: sustainability, resilience and food. It shows that individuals, communities and governments all have their own responsibilities to fight climate change. It also raises awareness about soft engineering options such as managed realignment and sand dune restoration which are viable options for sea defence (Ferreira, et al, 2019).
Reasons to be Positive and Local Projects
These sections are short summary slideshows that showcase key local projects that are combating climate change and key reasons to be positive. It is important to end on a positive note and direct people to projects that are being undertaken in the area. The “Local Projects” section is going to be continuously added to by other projects in Pembrokeshire by Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum to advertise what they do and inspire people. The “Reasons to be positive” section looks at social improvements such as not having to address the issue alone as well as economic improvements such as job creation and investment from the marine renewable industry.
The StoryMap aims to take people on a climate change journey. Local people learning about local impacts and changes caused by climate change are far more likely to engage with positive climate behaviours. Without increased public engagement and knowledge on climate change there will be no behaviour change, behavioural change is an important part of meaningful and effective climate action, particularly at a local scale.
By Don Harty Cardiff University placement student with Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum 2020 – 2021.
If you’d like to talk to us or give us feedback about the StoryMap, please contact us at:
Alex Cameron-Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
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