While Americans are increasingly in agreement about the science of and danger posed by Climate Change, national surveys have found that Americans are more likely to believe that the impacts of Climate Change will primarily affect geographically distant people and places. These inaccurate "public risk perceptions can fundamentally compel or constrain political, economic, and social action to address particular risks (Leiserowitz, 2005). One way that the Washington State Department of Ecology and Washington Sea Grant are seeking to address this issue is through the King Tides Initiative.
This international initiative strives to raise awareness about sea level rise by inviting citizens to capture and share photographs of annual King Tides. The idea is to use the awe-inspiring annual high tides to help citizens understand the reality of projected future sea levels and spark conversation about the impacts of ongoing and future changes in the climate on local communities. While the Initiative has engaged many citizens in these issues, there is always a danger that actual King Tides will fail to reach projected levels as a result of factors including wind storms, atmospheric pressure, and ocean conditions, since all of which are much more difficult to predict weeks or months in advance than tide levels themselves. Last week, Hugh Shipman, a Puget Sound Coastal Geologist in the Shorelands Program at the Department of Ecology, published a blog post on the Department of Ecology ECOconnect blog addressing these issues, which you can view here.
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