Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Climate change is an important issue of concern, as its environmental impacts are already beginning to manifest in various means, such as through sea level rise and increased frequencies of storms. Areas of high vulnerability to the effects of climate change, such as southeastern Louisiana, are prime locations to initiate research in determining what factors influence individual’s risk perceptions towards climate change. This study aims is to identify key factors, specifically in the areas of socioeconomic, demographic, exposure, and attitudinal attributes, which affect climate change risk perceptions. The study area is that of the zip codes around Lake Pontchartrain in southeastern Louisiana; the region to the north of Lake Pontchartrain has higher mean elevation and is considered to have less environmental pollution, while the region located south of Lake Pontchartrain is considered more industrialized and has much lower mean elevation. Statistical analysis occurred primarily through Pearson’s chi-square tests, to determine whether frequencies from independent groups within specific variables showed significant difference in concern, and ordinal logit regression, to determine which factors account for variation in attitudes and risk perceptions concerning climate change. Ordinal logit regression found that an increased level of concern towards climate change was significantly associated with lower educational attainment, slightly lower exposure to pollution, lower confidence in state government, and high environmental beliefs. It was also concluded that geography within the study region plays a role in the level of concern towards climate change, with the southern region of Lake Pontchartrain showing higher overall concern than the northern region. It is important to study risk perceptions of the general public within probable areas of vulnerability to the future effects of climate change because understanding risk perceptions is important because adaptation and mitigation of climate change needs to occur both through policy making at the government level and the choices and behaviors of citizens at the individual level.



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Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret