Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Sarah B. Pralle

Honors Reader

Danny Hayes

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics | International Relations | Political Science


“The Backyard Effect” hypothesizes that for an issue as potentially abstract, complex, and vast-in-scope as climate change, it will take experiential evidence of impacts in order for people to change and view the problem as urgent – and take action. In order to test this hypothesis, this project set out to interview citizens in climate change-impacted regions around the world in order to explore any connections between personal experience and personal opinion and action. The methodology involved personal interviews with residents, analysis of poll numbers, and use of media reports in locations currently experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Based on case studies in Switzerland, Iceland, Montana, and Alaska, this report argues that a backyard effect indeed exists when it comes to one’s personal relationship to climate change. Except, instead of a quantifiable impact on polling results on climate change credibility, a geographically proximate climate impact can affect different communities in less quantifiable ways. For example, one group may view the changes as part of a grander natural cycle, and another may focus on economic impacts as evidence of the reality of the threat, which much dependent on a community’s culture and economic dependencies. In all, it can be concluded that the visible impacts of climate change do impact community views of the climate change phenomenon, especially when impacts have direct financial consequences to the community.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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