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Concerns about climate change among rural residents in Australia

 

Rural Australian residents are concerned about the financial, environmental, health and social impacts of climate change, a new study has found. (1)

The study, involving 823 participants of the Australian Rural Mental Health Study, asked rural residents in NSW what their biggest concern was regarding climate change.

Participants listed concerns about the potential suffering caused by climate change for themselves and their communities- both now and into the future.

Free-text responses to the question included examples of financial, environmental, health and social impacts. People were particularly worried about the financial burden associated with extreme weather events.

There is a growing amount of research into the direct and indirect effects of climate change on mental health. (2) Rural communities can be particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their economic reliance on the agriculture industry.

This study is the first population-based study to ask rural residents about their climate change concerns and offers insights from the perspective of those most vulnerable to its impacts.

The findings have been published online ahead of print in the Journal of Rural Studies.

The insights revealed in this study can be used to inform community-based approaches to build resilience and improve adaptation while meeting the diverse needs of rural communities.

 

(1). Austin, E. K., Rich, J. L., Kiem, A. S., Handley, T., Perkins, D. Concerns about climate change among rural residents in Australia. Journal of Rural Studies. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2020.01.010

(2). Hayes, K., Blashki, G., Wiseman, J., Burke, S., Reifels, L. Climate change and mental health: risks, impacts and priority actions. International Journal of Mental Health Systems.

 

Lead author, Emma Austin’s PhD thesis involves quantifying the relationships between drought, wellbeing and adaptive capacity in rural communities. Emma is supervised by CRRMH Director, Professor David Perkins.

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