Attitude and Adoption: Understanding Climate Change Through Predictive Modeling

2019-08-12T19:01:34Z (GMT) by Jackson B Bennett
Climate change has emerged as one of the most critical issues of the 21st century. It stands to impact communities across the globe, forcing individuals and governments alike to adapt to a new environment. While it is critical for governments and organizations to make strides to change business as usual, individuals also have the ability to make an impact. The goal of this thesis is to study the beliefs that shape climate-related attitudes and the factors that drive the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies using a foundation in statistical learning. Previous research has studied the factors that influence both climate-related attitude and adoption, but comparatively little has been done to leverage recent advances in statistical learning and computing ability to advance our understanding of these topics. As increasingly large amounts of relevant data become available, it will be pivotal not only to use these emerging sources to derive novel insights on climate change, but to develop and improve statistical frameworks designed with climate change in mind. This thesis presents two novel applications of statistical learning to climate change, one of which includes a more general framework that can easily be extended beyond the field of climate change. Specifically, the work consists of two studies: (1) a robust integration of social media activity with climate survey data to relate climate-talk to climate-thought and (2) the development and validation of a statistical learning model to predict renewable energy installations using social, environmental, and economic predictors. The analysis presented in this thesis supports decision makers by providing new insights on the factors that drive climate attitude and adoption.