On the Importance of Strengthening Moderate Beliefs in Climate Science to Foster Support for Immediate Action

Sustainability. 2013; 5(12):5153-5170.

18 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2013

See all articles by Zach Wendling

Zach Wendling

Indiana University

Shahzeen Attari

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Sanya Carley

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Rachel Krauss

University of Kansas

David Warren

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs

John Rupp

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

John Graham

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: December 12, 2013

Abstract

Whereas many studies focus on climate skeptics to explain the lack of support for immediate action on climate change, this research examines the effect of moderate believers in climate science. Using data from a representative survey of 832 Indiana residents, we find that agreement with basic scientific conclusions about climate change is the strongest predictor of support for immediate action, and the strength of that agreement is an important characteristic of this association. Responses indicate widespread acceptance of climate change, moderate levels of risk perception, and limited support for immediate action. Half of the respondents (50%) preferred "more research" over "immediate action" (38%) and "no action" (12%) as a response to climate change. The probability of preferring immediate action is close to zero for those who strongly or somewhat disbelieve in climate change, but as belief in climate change grows from moderate to strong, the probability of preferring immediate action increases substantially; the strongest believers have a predicted probability of preferring immediate action of 71%. These findings suggest that, instead of simply engaging skeptics, increasing public support for immediate action might entail motivating those with moderate beliefs in climate change to hold their views with greater conviction.

Keywords: climate change, public perception, regional studies, immediate action

Suggested Citation

Wendling, Zach and Attari, Shahzeen and Carley, Sanya and Krauss, Rachel and Warren, David and Rupp, John and Graham, John, On the Importance of Strengthening Moderate Beliefs in Climate Science to Foster Support for Immediate Action (December 12, 2013). Sustainability. 2013; 5(12):5153-5170., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2366853

Zach Wendling

Indiana University ( email )

107 S Indiana Ave
100 South Woodlawn
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Shahzeen Attari (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mypage.iu.edu/~sattari/index.html

Sanya Carley

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Rachel Krauss

University of Kansas ( email )

1415
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

David Warren

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

John Rupp

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

John Graham

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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