Using proverbs to study local perceptions of climate change: a case study in Sierra Nevada (Spain)

María Garteizgogeascoa*, David García-del-Amo, Victoria Reyes-García

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Local communities’ dependence on the environment for their livelihood has guided the development of indicators of local weather and climate variability. These indicators are encoded in different forms of oral knowledge. We explore whether people recognize and perceive as accurate one type of such forms of oral knowledge, climate-related proverbs. We conducted research in the Alta Alpujarra Occidental, Sierra Nevada, Spain. We collected locally recognized proverbs and classified them according to whether they referred to the climatic, the physical, or the biological system. We then conducted questionnaires (n = 97) to assess informant’s ability to recognize a selection of 30 locally relevant proverbs and their perception of the accuracy of the proverb. Climate-related proverbs are abundant and relatively well recognized even though informants consider that many proverbs are not accurate nowadays. Although proverbs’ perceived accuracy varied across informant’s age, level of schooling, and area of residence, overall proverb’s lack of reported accuracy goes in line with climate change trends documented by scientists working in the area. While our findings are limited to a handful of proverbs, they suggest that the identification of mismatches and discrepancies between people’s reports of proverb (lack of) accuracy and scientific assessments could be used to guide future research on climate change impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Andalucía (Spain)
  • Climate change impacts
  • Ethnoclimatology
  • Indigenous and local knowledge
  • Proverbs


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