Farmers adapt to climate change irrespective of stated belief in climate change: a California case study
Farmers are front-line workers managing climatic change. As in many parts of the world, climate change in northern California is threatening natural resource-dependent communities by exacerbating droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires. This article draws on ethnographic methods, including 108 interviews with crop and livestock farmers and key informants, to query climate change experience, belief, and response in rural northeastern California. I find that farmers recognize and describe climate changes that match the meteorologic evidence of anthropogenic climate change, but attribute these changes to weather cycles and harsh geographies. However, irrespective of their belief in anthropogenic climate change, farmers implement climate adaptations—many of these practices with mitigation co-benefits, bolstering growing evidence that climate change belief and action are not tightly coupled. To accelerate farmer adaptation, this work suggests that policy and programming focus on actions and outcomes, rather than reshaping belief.