Red, White, and Blue: Environmental Distress among Water Stakeholders in a U.S. Farming Community

Margaret V. DU BRAY, Barbara Quimby, Julia C. Bausch, Amber Wutich, Weston M. Eaton, Kathryn J. Brasier, Alexandra Brewis, Clinton Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This paper explores environmental distress (e.g., feeling blue) in a politically conservative (“red”) and pre-dominantly white farming community in the southwestern United States. In such communities across the United States, expressed concern over environmental change-including climate change-tends to be lower. This is understood to have a palliative effect that reduces feelings of ecoanxiety. Using an emotional geographies framework, our study identifies the forms of everyday emotional expressions related to water and environmental change in the context of a vulnerable rural agricultural community in central Arizona. Drawing on long-term participant-observation and stakeholder research, we use data from individual (n = 48) and group (n = 8) interviews with water stakeholders to explore reports of sadness and fear over environmental change using an emotion-focused text analysis. We find that this distress is related to social and material changes related to environmental change rather than to environmental change itself. We discuss implications for research on emotional geographies for understanding reactions to environmental change and uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-595
Number of pages11
JournalWeather, Climate, and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • North America
  • Social Science
  • Watersheds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Atmospheric Science


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