Bryce Hannibal, ISTPP post-doctoral research associate, presented several papers at the American Sociological Association annual conference held in Seattle, WA August 20-23, 2016. Both papers are based on ISTPP’s national representative public opinion survey on the water-energy-food nexus (May 2015).
The first paper, “Cognitive Awareness of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the US: Public Attitudes among the American People,” co-authored with ISTPP researchers Kent Portney, Carol Goldsmith, Peyton McGee, Xinsheng Liu, and Arnold Vedlitz, explores the public’s understanding of the connections between water and energy, water and food, and food and energy. The researchers analyze data from the survey to investigate the extent to which awareness of the nexus is associated with willingness to support public policies designed to intervene in the nexus. They find that levels of awareness vary considerably across individuals and across the nexus nodes and those awareness levels are highly related to a number of policy options. The results suggest that awareness of the water-energy-food nexus may represent conditions necessary for supporting policy responses and that building awareness of nexus issues could represent an important pathway for increasing support for policy interventions.
The second paper, “Political Ideology and the Invisible Environment: A Multi-Level Analysis of Biophysical Impacts on Individual Behaviors and Attitudes about Water,” written with Arnold Vedlitz, examines the extent to which local environmental incidents and hazards influence individuals’ attitudes and behaviors about water. The authors combine nexus survey data with data about local environmental conditions to examine county-level contextual factors. Their results show that very few biophysical indicators influence individual attitudes and behaviors about water, which are instead influenced by sociodemographic and political characteristics, of which political ideology is a prominent influencing factor. Their results suggest that it is unlikely that natural hazards and incidents with water will lead Americans to shift current behaviors and attitudes more generally towards investments in new water conservation practices and policy options.