Data Analysis and Interpretation
This section focuses on data analysis and data interpretation. The survey employed both primary and secondary data. The survey was conducted on a total of 212 oceanfront property owners in the town of Surfside Beach, South Carolina in order to determine their perception on sea level rise.
Perception of Threat Level of Sea Rise
Under this section, we asked the question “how concerned are you about the sea level rise?” The property owners were asked to indicate their concerns as either “a great deal, moderate amount, only a little and not at all.” Their responses are as shown below:
19% of them indicated they worried a great deal, 34% were moderately concerned, and 22% of them were concerned only a little and 25% were not concerned at all. This shows that the respondents are split regarding the worry about sea level rise.
Knowledge of Sea Level Rise
The survey also sought to examine the self-professed knowledge about sea level rise. They were asked to rank their responses using the same scale above. The figure below shows their responses.
As indicated above, 19% said that they knew a great deal about sea level rise. 39% indicated that they knew a moderate amount while 39% indicated they only knew a little about sea level rise. A further 4% said that they knew nothing at all. A majority of them had moderate knowledge and knew a little about sea level rise. People with more knowledge about sea level rise are more likely to be worried about sea level rise than those who know little or nothing about it.
Further, the respondents were asked the question “do you feel there is enough available information about sea level rise? The respondent’s opinions were divided with regards to whether there is enough available information about sea level rise. 33% of them indicated ‘yes’ while 26% indicated ‘No’ a further 41% indicated that they ‘don’t know’ whether there is enough available information. Availability of information contributes to their knowledge about sea level rise which in turn would affect their concerns and opinions. A huge body of information about sea level rise and its effects, the more people would be concerned about it.
The respondents were further asked which topics related to seal level rise they would be interested in if made readily available. Their responses are as listed below.
General information about Sea Level Rise (SLR) - 88%
Measures that could be taken to reduce future impacts - 54%
Current impacts of SLR - 49%
Causes of SLR - 51%
Protecting your property from SLR - 69%
Government assistance to address SLR - 34%
A majority of the respondents, 88%, said that they would be interested in SLR in general. 54% wanted to know about measures that could be taken to reduce future impacts and 49% about the current impacts of sea level rise. Of the property owners, 51% said they wanted to know about the causes of SLR, 69% about protecting property from SLR while 34% wanted to know more about government assistance in addressing SLR.
Opinion on Sea Level Rise and whether Sea Level Rising is occurring
A direct question was asked to the property owners to indicate how convinced they are that seal level rise is occurring. Their responses were either “completely convinced” “mostly convinced” “not so convinced” and not at all.” The responses of the property owners are shown by the figure below.
Only 26% of them are completely convinced that sea level is actually occurring. 45% of them were mostly convinced while 25% were not so convinced. Only 4% of the residents indicated that they are not convinced at all that sea level rise is happening. The residents with knowledge on sea level rise are likely to be convinced that sea level rise is occurring. Those with little or no information about sea level rise are not likely or will not at all be convinced.
Further, the property owners were asked a direct question of whether they thought that the government should take measures to mitigate the future effects of sea level rise. A huge number of the property owners, 59%, indicated that the government should take measures to mitigate the effects while 32% indicated that the government should not take measures. 9% of them indicated that they did not know whether the government should take any measures to mitigate the future effects of sea level rise. The property owners with knowledge on sea level rise indicate that the government should take measures while those without do not see the need of government interventions.
Perceptions of Sea Level Rise as a Threat
The property owners were asked a direct question of whether they thought sea level rise was a direct threat to the future of their property. Their responses were either ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’ The figure below indicates their responses.
Most of the property owners consider sea level rise as a threat to their property with 58% indicating ‘yes’ 19% do not consider sea level rise as threat to the future of their property while 23% do not know whether sea level rise is a threat to the future of their property. Their responses are mainly influenced by their level of knowledge and awareness on seal level rise. Those aware about sea level rise are more likely to indicate yes while those lacking awareness would indicate no and don’t know. Further, the property owners who indicated yes were asked how serious they believed the threat was to the future of their property. 24% of the property owners indicated that they believed that the threat was “great deal” 48% indicated that the effects would be “moderate amount” Only 28% said that the effects would be “only a little” This is also influenced by their level of education on SLR.
The respondents were asked which type measures they would support in relation to addressing the effects of sea level rise. Their responses are as listed below
Change building codes and regulations to reduce risk - 66%
Avoid building new structures in flood prone areas - 39%
Building sea walls, barriers or dikes - 15%
Elevating existing structures - 55%
Use of government funds to purchase land at risk of sea level rise - 24%
Summary and Conclusions
The study findings reveal that the property owner’s opinion about the threat of sea level rise is divided. Their responses revealed that only 25% of them perceived the threat of seal level rise as a great deal. 35% of them indicated that they were moderately concerned about the effects of sea level rise while 22% of them were only a little concerned about the threat level of sea level rise. A further 25% were not concerned about the threat of sea level rise. This clearly shows that opinion is divided on as to whether sea level rise is happening or not. The study findings also reveal that only a few people are aware and knowledgeable about sea level rise. A majority of the property owners said that they knew only a “moderate amount” and “only a little” about sea level rise. A large majority also indicate that there is a low level of availability about the information on sea level rise. This goes on to indicate that there is a huge information gap relating to sea level rise and its effects (Finkl, 2013). 88% of the property owners indicated that they would be interested in a general topic on sea level rise, which goes on to show how the level of awareness on sea level rise is low. This information gap affects their perceptions on whether sea level rise is happening, perceptions on the severity of the threats and whether sea level rise is a threat to the future of their property. A large majority of the property owners indicated that the government should take measures to mitigate the future effects of sea level rise with a majority of them supporting measures such as changing the building codes and regulations to reduce risk.
The respondents also showed support for government actions to deal with the effects of sea level rise. Given that seal level rise is happening and its effects being felt all over, it is important for the government to take measures to ensure the adaptation and mitigation of the adverse effects of sea level rise (Glavovich, Saunders & Becker, 2010). As the effects of sea level rise affect multiple agencies and departments, it is recommended that there be collaborative and coordinated efforts to ensure adequate preparations and responsive mechanisms to sea level rise. The government should cooperate with the local agencies to ensure that decisions made regarding sea level rise are clear and sound (Evans, Milfont & Lawrence, 2012). Collaboration and coordination would bring about effective planning and adequate adaptive measures. The impacts of sea level rise would be severe depending on how quick actions would be taken to mitigate them. Even though preparation for sea level rise is expensive, it would prove to be cheap in the actual event when the effects would be felt all over. Hence, planning should not only focus on the sea level rise but also on the extreme impacts (Kriebel & Geiman, 2014).
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