Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1991


Published in Great Plains Research 1:1 (February 1991), pp. 114–132. Copyright © 1991 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


How humans perceive, respond, and adapt to long-term climatic change are questions of fundamental interest to nature and society researchers. This paper analyzes the effect of drought experience on Great Plains farmers' perceptions of long-term climate change. Approximately three-quarters of all farmers surveyed believed that the climate is, or is possibiy, changing. Drought experience, while perhaps not initiating concern for climate change, can solidify peoples' perceptions of the certainty and nature of the change. The potential cognitive heuristics used in the formation of climate change perceptions are discussed.