Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Why would teaching people more about science, tend to reduce concern about Climate Change? The obvious explanation is there is something wrong with the science, that scientific literacy helps people see through the hype. But what happens, if a climate behaviourist ignores or refuses to consider the obvious?
What makes us care about climate change?
“Our research clearly shows that education and decision support aimed at the public and policy makers is not a lost cause.”
Knowledge about the causes of climate change was correlated with higher levels of concern about climate change in all of the countries studied—Canada, China, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We think this is because knowledge about causes cements in our minds the fact that it’s human actions that have set the risks in motion, and that human action may be taken to reduce the risks,” Arvai said. “This finding was weakest in China, perhaps because the emphasis is on economic growth, even it comes at the expense of the environment.”
Knowledge about the consequences of climate change was also a strong predictor of concern. But greater knowledge about the biophysical dimensions of climate change tended to dampen public concern.
“We think this is because focusing on the technical dimensions of a problem like climate change dehumanises it and focuses our collective attention away from the individuals and communities—human and nonhuman—that are at the gravest risk,” Arvai said.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-04-climate.html
The abstract of the study;
It is intuitive to assume that concern about climate change should be preceded by knowledge about its effects. However, recent research suggests that knowledge about climate change has only a limited effect on shaping concern about climate change. Our view is that this counterintuitive finding is a function of how knowledge is typically measured in studies about climate change. We find that if it is measured in a domain-specific and multidimensional way, knowledge is indeed an important driver of concern about climate change—even when we control for human values. Likewise, different dimensions of knowledge play different roles in shaping concern about climate change. To illustrate these findings, we present the results from a survey deployed across six culturally and politically diverse countries. Higher levels of knowledge about the causes of climate change were related to a heightened concern. However, higher levels of knowledge about the physical characteristics of climate change had either a negative or no significant effect on concern. Efforts aimed at improving public knowledge about climate change are therefore not the lost cause that some researchers claim they may be.
Read more (Paywalled): http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2997.html
You see, we bad – apparently we don’t care, because instead of filling our time watching videos about starving polar bears, we looked behind the curtain, and discovered that the ugly defects in the theory were more interesting than the frantic ongoing appeal to our emotions.