Environmental and social factors affect views on climate change

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A recent study indicates that when it comes to human-induced climate change, the actions and beliefs of both sceptics and believers can be understood as integrated expressions of self, underpinning specific social identities. Therefore strategies for building support for climate change mitigation policies should go beyond attempts to improve the public’s understanding of science.

The study, published in Nature Climate Change journal, was undertaken by researchers from Monash University, the University of Western Sydney, Murdoch University and Flinders University. Using an online survey of sceptics and believers of climate change, researchers measured differences between the two groups in terms of environmental behaviours, emotional responses, national and global identification, and other variables.

The study suggests that, although there is a growing belief among the general public that climate change is real, there is also a sharp division in beliefs about its causes, with many people sceptical of human-induced change.

The research also found that part of the group consciousness of each group was anger at the opposing side. It inferred that it is unlikely that the bridge between the two groups can be overcome by communication and education strategies alone, and strategies for building support for climate change should include approaches that will change the relationship between the two groups.

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