Risk Communication and Climate Justice Planning: A Case of Michigan’s Huron River Watershed

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Risk Communication and Climate Justice Planning: A Case of Michigan’s Huron River Watershed


  • Chingwen Cheng The Design School, Arizona State University, USA
  • Jiun-Yi Tsai School of Communication, Northern Arizona University, USA
  • Y. C. Ethan Yang Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Lehigh University, USA
  • Rebecca Esselman Huron River Watershed Council, USA
  • Margaret Kalcic Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Ohio State University, USA
  • Xin Xu Marine Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • Paul Mohai School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan, USA


Abstract  Communicating climate risks is crucial when engaging the public to support climate action planning and addressing climate justice. How does evidence-based communication influence local residents’ risk perception and potential behavior change in support of climate planning? Built upon our previous study of Climate Justice maps illustrating high scores of both social and ecological vulnerability in Michigan’s Huron River watershed, USA, a quasi-experiment was conducted to examine the effects of Climate Justice mapping intervention on residents’ perceptions and preparedness for climate change associated hazards in Michigan. Two groups were compared: residents in Climate Justice areas with high social and ecological vulnerability scores in the watershed (n=76) and residents in comparison areas in Michigan (n=69). Measurements for risk perception include perceived exposure, sensitivity, and adaptability to hazards. Results indicate that risk information has a significant effect on perceived sensitivity and level of preparedness for future climate extremes among participants living in Climate Justice areas. Findings highlight the value of integrating scientific risk assessment information in risk communication to align calculated and perceived risks. This study suggests effective risk communication can influence local support of climate action plans and implementation of strategies that address climate justice and achieve social sustainability in local communities.


Keywords  climate change planning; climate justice; risk communication; risk perception; social sustainability; vulnerability


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v2i4.1045


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