A new study from researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Earth, Atmospheric and Marine Sciences found that Miami’s history of environmental injustice held the key to understanding why different groups often spoke purposefully. contradictory, leading to misunderstandings and disagreements about climate change and what they think should be done about it.
“These findings are of particular interest as local governments begin to respond to climate pressures,” said Rosalind Donald, who conducted the study while a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the UM Rosenstiel School. “Although climate change is often talked about in scientific terms in the policy world, the people in our study engaged with its broader societal context.”
By combining information from interviews, archival documents, from planning documents to personal documents, and analysis of policy documents, Donald and his team were able to analyze the Miami climate debate and the stories that inform it.
The city’s story of growth through real estate development and racial segregation, from the dispossession of the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes to the destruction of Overtown, Miami’s largest black community at the time, to make way for Highway I -95, has created a fractured climate debate in which people experience different climate impacts.
Coastal areas are likely to be populated by a wealthier demographic, for example, making them more likely to experience coastal flooding due to rising sea levels and connecting that to climate change. Inland, many black communities are located on higher ground due to segregation and displacement. These areas are under increasing pressure from gentrification, possibly due in part to the fact that they are less vulnerable to rising sea levels, a theory called climate gentrification. As a result, some residents were more likely to connect climate change with gentrification.
Their research found that different views on climate change are not just about political identity, but are rooted in community histories, such as experiences of privilege or dispossession.
“Research and the media often put differences of opinion on climate change before political differences,” Donald said. “It’s not just denialists and believers, our research shows how climate change is personal to all of us.”
In some communities, this meant that science-based climate communication could even be alienating, while talking about climate change in the context of gentrification and other pressing concerns was more concrete. In another community, an affluent Miami Beach neighborhood, residents were well versed in climate science but still rejected measures to respond to sea level rise when they feared it would interfere with their property values and their livelihoods. quality of life.
“It has divided the city between those who have benefited from this growth and those whose communities have subsidized the health, wealth and environmental quality of others without enjoying the fruits of growth,” Donald said.
Materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Original written by Diana Udel. Note: content can be edited for style and length.