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Uncertain climate: An investigation into public scepticism about anthropogenic climate change

Poortinga, Wouter ORCID:, Spence, Alexa, Whitmarsh, Lorraine E. ORCID:, Capstick, Stuart B. ORCID: and Pidgeon, Nicholas Frank ORCID: 2011. Uncertain climate: An investigation into public scepticism about anthropogenic climate change. Global Environmental Change 21 (3) , pp. 1015-1024. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.03.001

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This study presents a detailed investigation of public scepticism about climate change in Britain using the trend, attribution, and impact scepticism framework of Rahmstorf (2004). The study found that climate scepticism is currently not widespread in Britain. Although uncertainty and scepticism about the potential impacts of climate change were fairly common, both trend and attribution scepticism were far less prevalent. It further showed that the different types of scepticism are strongly interrelated. Although this may suggest that the general public does not clearly distinguish between the different aspects of the climate debate, there is a clear gradation in prevalence along the Rahmstorf typology. Climate scepticism appeared particularly common among older individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds who are politically conservative and hold traditional values; while it is less common among younger individuals from higher socio-economic backgrounds who hold self-transcendence and environmental values. The finding that climate scepticism is rooted in people's core values and worldviews may imply a coherent and encompassing sceptical outlook on climate change. However, attitudinal certainty appeared mainly concentrated in non-sceptical groups, suggesting that climate sceptical views are not held very firmly. Implications of the findings for climate change communication and engagement are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate change; Public attitudes; Scepticism; Uncertainty; Ambivalence
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-3780
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 02:55

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