As part of the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge (ERNC), ReMain Nantucket retained EBP to conduct a series of two surveys to measure community attitudes toward climate change and coastal resilience on Nantucket.
The first survey, designed to provide baseline information on community attitudes on the topics, was administered in mid-January, 2021, before the ERNC 2021 design studio and community outreach initiatives began. The survey asked respondents about:
- Attitudes about climate change in general
- Attitudes about climate change on Nantucket including the role of local government actors, the responsibilities of homeowners and business owners, and support for public expenditures to prepare for the effects of climate change
- Willingness to consider individual adaptations such as wet or dry floodproofing, private rain gardens, raising/protecting home utilities, or raising homes
- Level of support for community actions such as creating tidal surge barriers from oyster reefs, community rain gardens, and raising sidewalks
- The extent to which respondents are taking action to reduce their contributions to climate change (e.g. by conserving electricity, buy locally sourced food, or buying carbon offsets)
- How likely respondents are to discuss climate change and coastal resilience with others in the community
Survey questions designed to measure attitudes about climate change in general were drawn from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications “Six Americas Super Short Survey, Yay!” (“SASSY”). Sassy is an audience segmentation tool designed to help people better understand their own climate views and the views of others to improve communication on the topic. The original SASSY survey was comprised of 36 questions, but researchers were able to isolate just four questions that would allow respondents to be classified into six groups: Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful, and Dismissive. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communications administers the survey nationwide annually, and provides a web-based tool that allows the comparison of attitudes of individuals and survey populations with national attitudes. This tool was used to compare ERNC survey responses and found significantly higher proportions of Alarmed and Concerned on Nantucket (88%) relative to the nation as a whole (58%), and very low percentages of Disengaged, Doubtful, or Dismissive respondents (6% on Nantucket versus 24% nationally).
The second survey was given in late January through early February, 2022, after ERNC activities had concluded. This survey added questions designed to measure changes in attitudes since the first survey. ReMain was particularly interested to identify the impacts of ERNC programming on community attitudes, with the recognition that attitudes are also informed by concurrent initiatives by the Town of Nantucket, its consultants, and a number of on-island nonprofit, science and conservation organizations. Questions to the second survey included asking respondents whether their level of engagement with the topics of climate change and coastal resilience had changed during the past 12-18 months, and if so why; familiarity and level of agreement with the Town’s Coastal Resilience Strategy; and about attendance at ERNC-sponsored activities and exhibitions.
The survey was created and administered in English and Spanish using SurveyMonkey. Respondents were recruited by circulating the survey link to ReMain and partner organization email distribution lists, social media posts by ReMain and partners, paid advertising on popular local news websites, and a radio ad. Overall, more than 1,000 Nantucket year-round residents, part-time residents, and visitors completed the survey.
The results of the two surveys allow ReMain Nantucket and its ERNC partners to analyze the extent to which ERNC programming served its goal of empowering the community to think proactively about coastal resilience and sea level rise. In addition to the summary report, EBP produced a “quick facts” summary of key findings for ReMain. EBP was also invited to present the results to the Town’s Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee twice, once after each survey, so that the information can also be used by the Town and other community groups on Nantucket as they move forward with coastal resilience initiatives.