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Public understanding in Great Britain of ocean acidification

Capstick, Stuart B. ORCID:, Pidgeon, Nick F. ORCID:, Corner, Adam J., Spence, Elspeth M. ORCID: and Pearson, Paul N. ORCID: 2016. Public understanding in Great Britain of ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 6 , pp. 763-767. 10.1038/nclimate3005

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Public engagement with climate change is critical for maintaining the impetus for meaningful emissions cuts. Ocean acidification (OA) is increasingly recognized by marine scientists as an important, but often overlooked, consequence of anthropogenic emissions1, 2. Although substantial evidence now exists concerning people’s understanding of climate change more generally3, very little is known about public perceptions of OA. Here, for the first time, we characterize in detail people’s understanding of this topic using survey data obtained in Great Britain (n = 2,501) during 2013 and 2014. We draw on theories of risk perception and consider how personal values influence attitudes towards OA. We find that public awareness of OA is very low compared to that of climate change, and was unaffected by the publication of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Using an experimental approach, we show that providing basic information can heighten concern about OA, however, we find that attitude polarization along value-based lines may occur if the topic is explicitly associated with climate change. We discuss the implications of our findings for public engagement with OA, and the importance of learning lessons from communications research relating to climate change.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GC Oceanography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 1758-678X
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 June 2016
Date of Acceptance: 29 March 2016
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2024 21:04

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