Publications

In the Eye of the Storm: Hurricanes and Climate Migration Attitudes (with Christopher W. Blair). Conditionally Accepted, American Political Science Review.

Climate disasters raise the salience of climate change’s negative consequences, including climate-induced migration. Policy action to address climate displacement is especially contentious in the U.S., where weak support for tackling climate change intersects with high opposition to immigration. Do climate disasters foster receptivity toward climate migrants and broader willingness to combat climate change? To study this question, we leverage the occurrence of Hurricane Ian during fielding of a pre-registered survey in autumn 2022. Hurricane exposure increased concern about and support for policies to address climate migration. Hurricane exposure also increased support for climate action and belief in anthropogenic climate change. Effects of hurricane exposure cross-cut partisanship, education, age, and other important correlates of climate attitudes, but decay within six months. Together, these results suggest that climate disasters may briefly increase favorability toward climate migrants and climate policy action, but are unlikely to durably mobilize support even in severely-impacted areas.

“Who Securitizes? Climate Change Discourse in the United Nations.” 2022. International Studies Quarterly 66(2)

When and why do states reframe issues as security problems? Which states advocate for these shifts? While securitization theory predicts that states that are existentially threatened by a problem are most likely to attempt to securitize it, I argue that accounting for the dynamics of institutional agendas can better explain this phenomenon. States that stand to gain agenda control as a result of securitization are likely to use the language of existential threat in their speech, while those that are materially interested in the issue are less likely to do so. I test this theory in the case of the climate change in the UN, leveraging data on speeches in the General Assembly. I provide the first quantitative test of the securitization of climate politics, finding that P5 states securitize to expand their agenda control, while Small Island Developing States do not securitize, contra previous expectations. I further find that the overall climate discourse cannot be characterized as securitized. These findings imply that the Security Council is unlikely to be significantly involved in climate change policy, and also demonstrate the importance of rhetoric for political outcomes and for the distribution of state power within international organizations.

“Changing Tides: Public Attitudes on Climate Migration.” 2022. The Journal of Politics 84(1) (with Christopher W. Blair).

Little existing work studies public perceptions of climate-induced migration. We redress this gap, drawing on diverse literatures in political science and social psychology. We argue that climate migrants occupy an intermediate position in the public view, garnering greater support than traditional economic migrants but less support than refugees. Evidence from a conjoint experiment embedded in nationally representative surveys of 2160 respondents in the U.S. and Germany provide support for this claim. Importantly, this result holds for internal and international migrants. These findings suggest the importance of humanitarian considerations and empathy in shaping migration attitudes. We use a follow-up factorial experiment to explore potential policy implications of public support for climate migrants. We find no evidence that priming climate migration increases support for climate change mitigation, echoing existing work on the difficulty of mobilizing climate action, and suggesting that climate migration is unlikely to spur greater support for mitigating climate change.