Climate Change Beliefs and Cultural Values
Controversy surrounding the public understanding of climate change is influenced by the deficit in cognition of scientific information. As a result the knowledge deficit, people turn to cultural differences for alternative explanations. In a straight forward explanation, the difference in opinions is a result of both ignorance and culture. This view aligns with Kahan et al.’s cultural cognition thesis, according to which the political disagreement about climate change is a function of rational choice and the cultural theory, according to which the difference is a function of deep-rooted cultural differences. From personal experience, education, and analysis of Kahan et al.’s survey results, the precursor factor for the variation in perceptions of climate change is the lack of scientific understanding of the phenomenon, including its causes, impacts, and course of response actions. However, cultural beliefs act as a precipitating factor, filling the lack for the lack of knowledge by providing alternative responses. In the general public, people do not have sufficient scientific knowledge, important in comprehending scientific evidences and avoiding being misled by distortions (Hulme, 2010). The public has limitations in the capacity to evaluate information about risk. In short, members of the public do not have knowledge of what climate scientists know. The consequence of the lack of knowledge is that individuals do not think in a similar way as scientists think. Therefore, members of the public do not take climate change as a serious matter as scientists or rational risk evaluators do. The lack of information is demonstrated by the variation in the responses about the causes of the phenomenon and the role of human activities in particular. Kahan et al.’s survey data support the view of the influence of cultural differences and the lack of scientific knowledge. An indication of the knowledge deficit about climate...
References: Hulme, M. (2009). Why we disagree about climate change-understanding, controversy, inaction, & opportunity. University of East Anglia
Vuuren, V. et al. (2008). Temperature increase of 21st century mitigation scenarios. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(40): 15258-15262
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