EPSCoR - Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments
Communicating for Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons from a Case Study with Nature-Based Tour Operators
Increasing temperatures are projected to have a positive effect on the length of Alaska's tourism season, but the natural attractions that tourism relies on, such as glaciers, wildlife, fish, or other natural resources, may change. In order to continue to derive benefits from these resources, nature-based tour operators may have to adapt to these changes, and communication is an essential, but poorly understood, component of the climate change adaptation process. The goal of this study was to determine how to provide useful climate change information to nature-based tour operators by answering the following questions: 1. What environmental changes do nature-based tour operators perceive? 2. How are nature-based tour operators responding to climate and environmental change? 3. What climate change information do nature-based tour operators need? To answer these questions, twenty-four nature-based tour operators representing 20 different small and medium sized businesses in Juneau, Alaska were interviewed. The results show that many of Juneau's nature-based tour operators are observing, responding to, and in some cases, actively planning for further changes in the environment. The types of responses tended to vary depending on the participants' certainty in climate change and the perceived risks to their organization. Using these two factors, this study proposes a framework to classify climate change responses for the purpose of generating meaningful information and communication processes that promote adaptation and build adaptive capacity. During the course of the study, several other valuable lessons were learned about communicating about adaptation. The results of this study demonstrate that science communication research has an important place in the practice of promoting and fostering climate change adaptation. While the focus of this study was tour operators, the lessons learned may be valuable to other organizations striving to engage unique groups in climate change adaptation planning efforts and to social scientists trying to understanding of the role of communication in climate change adaptation.
Data and Resources
Data Types: Report