by Judith Curry
There is a growing body of academic literature that seeks to understand, explain – and even overcome – climate change scepticism. But is it getting to grips with scepticism, or missing the point? – Adam Corner
At Talking Climate, psychologist Adam Corner has a very interesting post entitled: Understanding Climate Skepticism: A Skeptic Responds”, which includes discussion with skeptic Geoff Chambers. An excerpt:
ADAM: In the last few months, two academic papers that make similar arguments about the nature and origins of climate change scepticism have been published. If there is one simple message to take from these two studies, it is that simply providing more information – or turning up the volume on the science – is unlikely to reduce scepticism about climate change. This is because scepticism about climate change is not primarily caused by a ‘misunderstanding’ of the science but by motivated reasoning processes – rooted in ideological differences – that mean that the ‘same’ evidence is not evaluated in the same way. Would you agree that scepticism about climate change has more to do with political views than an assessment of the science?
GEOFF: Of course not. That would be to admit that my politics was overriding my reasoning capacities! The misunderstanding comes I think from confounding the tiny number of active sceptics, who’ve come to a reasoned conclusion, with the Jeremy Clarkson fans who show up in polls. You’re just not going to catch many of us in a survey of the general population. The “old white conservative male” label is no doubt true for the population at large, and can be easily explained, but it tells you nothing about the nature of reasoned scepticism.
I agree with you that turning up the volume on the science is unlikely to reduce scepticism about climate change, but not for the reason you give. The more people learn about the science, the more they see how dodgy is the climate science responsible for rising energy prices. One of the results of the Kahan study you refer to was that the more scientifically literate tend to be more sceptical.
JC comment: what a novel idea – actually having a conversation with a skeptic to try to understand AGW skepticism. Kudos to Corner for doing what to many of us seems the obvious thing to do if you are trying to understand AGW skepticism. This is also discussed at Bishop Hill, there are some good comments in the thread.
In his glowing review of Michael Mann’s book, Chris Mooney has this to say about skeptics:
Despite my praise for Mann and his book—and I even gave it a cover blurb—I do have some differences with him. For instance, I think that here and in his public comments, Mann tends to focus too heavily on the idea that resistance to climate science, and his research, is corporate driven. Or as he puts it in the book: “well organized, well-funded, and orchestrated.” In contrast, I have increasingly come to think it is primarily ideological—driven by libertarian individualism, and those who embrace this view and its associated emotions—and the corporate connection is secondary (though often real). I thus think that focusing on it too much misleads us as to the nature of the opposition, which has grown so ideological at this point—and so driven by gut emotion—that it does the traditionally pragmatic business community no favors. If anything, it is out of synch with its own presumptive allies.
Australian choice experiment
Climate change scepticism and public support for mitigation: Evidence from an Australian choice experiment
Sonia Akter, Jeff Bennett Michael Ward
Abstract. Public scepticism surrounding climate change is an obstacle for implementing climate change mitigation measures in many countries. However, very little is known about: (1) the nature and sources of climate change scepticism; and (2) its influence on preferences for climate change mitigation policies. In this paper, we investigate these two issues using evidence and analysis from an Australian public survey and choice experiment. The study has three key findings. First, the intensity of scepticism varies depending on its type; we observed little scepticism over the cause, trend and impact of climate change and widespread scepticism over the effectiveness of mitigation measures and global co-operation. Second, cause and mitigation scepticism play significant roles in determining public support for climate change abatement. Respondents who believed in human-induced climate change were significantly more supportive of mitigation. Likewise, respondents who believed that mitigation would be successful in slowing down climate change were significantly more likely to be supportive. Third, the general public tend to give the benefit of the doubt to supporting mitigation. Those who expressed higher uncertainty about climate outcomes were more supportive of mitigation than others with similar expectations but lower uncertainty.