Multilevel predictors of climate change beliefs in Africa


Although Africa is the most vulnerable region to climate change, little research has focused on how climate change is perceived by Africans. Using random forest methodology, we analyze survey and climate data from second-order political boundaries to explore what predicts climate change beliefs in Africa. We include five different dimensions of climate change beliefs: climate change awareness, belief in anthropogenic climate change, risk perception, the need to stop climate change, and self-efficacy. Based on these criteria we identify five key results: (1) climate change in Africa is largely perceived through its negative impacts on agriculture; (2) actual changes in local climate conditions are related to climate change beliefs; (3) authoritarian and intolerant ideologies are associated to less climate change awareness, and a diminished risk perception and belief that it must be stopped; (4) women are less likely to be aware of climate change, and (5) not speaking French, English or Portuguese is linked to a hindered understanding of climate beliefs. Our combined results can help policy makers better understand the need to jointly consider the multilevel complexities of individual beliefs and hydroclimatic data for the development of more accurate adaptation and mitigation strategies to combat the impacts of climate change in Africa.