| Press Release GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht

Hamburg’s citizens regard climate change as a great threat

GKSS-Research Centre in Geesthacht publishes forsa Study

Sixty-one per cent of Hamburg’s citizens believe climate change to be a great or very great threat to the city, and 83 per cent of these cited storm surges and flooding as possible climate-related natural disasters.
This is the result of the survey carried out by the marketing and social research institute forsa Gesellschaft für Sozialforschung und statistische Analyse mbH commissioned by the GKSS-Research Centre in Geesthacht. A total of 500 Hamburg citizens were polled between March and April 2008.

Forty-four per cent of those questioned stated that they already considerably noticed the effects of climate change in Hamburg. “The study shows that climate change is something that is very present in the minds of Hamburg’s citizens. There is a great risk awareness associated with natural catastrophes”, tells Prof. Beate Ratter, Head of the new Department “Human Dimension of Coastal Areas” at the GKSS-Research Centre in Geesthacht. Neither the education nor gender of Hamburg’s citizens makes a significant difference to their perception of the associated risks.

The difference between young and old

Significant differences could be seen between the ages of those polled: Especially youths and those up to the age of 45 feel they are in danger of a natural disaster.
“Astoundingly the generation which may even have experienced the great storm surge of 1962 feels considerably less threatened”, says Ratter. Sixty-nine per cent of Hamburg’s citizens in their 60’s and over are not worried about natural disasters, although 72 per cent of these said they could either already see the effects of climate change, or that the effects would be obvious in 10 years at the latest. “After me, the deluge, as one might put it”, says Ratter, who regards this age group especially as one that needs to be educated about the possible effects of climate change on the city. “Risk awareness is essential when it comes to disaster management. If Hamburg’s citizens can’t bring themselves to think about preventative measures and protection in the event of catastrophe, all other efforts won’t make a difference”, explains Ratter. Should Hamburg be hit by a huge storm surge, it is especially important for the elderly citizens to be prepared, so they can protect themselves in the event of catastrophe.

Climate report for Hamburg

Independently from the new forsa Study, coastal researchers from Geesthacht have already been working for half a year on a climate report for the greater Hamburg region. They are doing so with the institutes from Hamburg University from the ClimateCampus Hamburg, as part of the Excellence Initiative (CLISAP). This report outlines the current knowledge concerning climate change in the region, the first results are expected by the end of 2009.

Note for editorial offices:

You can obtain the FORSA Study and further information from:

Prof. Dr. Beate M.W. Ratter

Department: Human Dimension of Coastal Areas
Institute for Coastal Research
GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht
Tel.: +49 (0)40 42838-5225
Fax: +49 (0)40 42838-4981

Personal data:

Prof. Beate M.W. Ratter is Professor of Geography at Hamburg University, and has since October 2007 been the Head of Department of “Human Dimension of Coastal Areas” in the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS-Research Centre Geesthacht.

Contact partner in the press and public relations department:

Dr. Torsten Fischer
Public Relations Office
GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht
Max-Planck-Straße 1
21052 Geesthacht
Tel.: +49 (0)4152 87-1677