Responding to Public Opinion About Cumulative Long-Term Risks: Analysis and Communication of Risks from Climate Change and Hazardous Waste Sites

by Robert E. O'Connor, Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, United States,
Richard J. Bord, Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Risk-Based Decision Making in Water Resources V


Public reactions to cumulative, uncertain, and long-term (CULT) risks pose particular problems to risk communicators. Low-magnitude and low-probability risks (e.g., living next to a hazardous waste treatment facility) often generate outrage while high-magnitude, higher-probability risks (e.g., alcohol consumption) are treated somewhat cavalierly. This paper first reports the results of two national surveys that deal separately with global warming and hazardous waste sites. Then, the paper reports the impact that different types of information communicated in brochures had on respondents to the two national surveys. The purpose is to learn more about how people understand CULT risks and how information about these risks can be more effectively communicated.

Subject Headings: Public health and safety | Risk management | Waste sites | Occupational safety | Hazardous wastes | Public opinion and participation | Climate change | Natural disasters

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