The Emotions of Climate Change

by Brendan Busch

Although climate change is an extremely complex issue, past studies have shown that the general public’s opinion on climate change action is influenced by subtle, general emotions. Continuing this line of research, Nicholas Smith, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Psychology and Language Studies at University College London, and Anthony Leiserowitz, a research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, set out to determine the effects that discrete emotions have on people’s support for climate change action. Smith and Leiserowitz analyzed the strength of emotional factors in comparison to other factors that influence the general public’s support of climate change policies, as well as the effects of specific emotions on people’s climate change views. Continue reading

Climate Change Adaptation: Lessening the Perceived Risk of Climate Change?

by Brendan Busch

As the future effects of climate change become more certain, it is clear that adaption to new climate conditions will be a necessity. However, will these plans for adaptation dissuade people from trying to prevent climate change? In their article “Does Learning About Climate Change Adaptation Change Support For Mitigation?” Amanda R. Carrico, Heather Barnes Truelove, Michael P. Vandenbergh, and David Dana (researchers and professors at the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of North Florida, Vanderbilt University Law School, and Northwestern University School of Law, respectively) attempt to determine if a focus on adaptation has adverse effects on the public’s support of preventative climate change measures. Through psychological experimentation, this study tests the hypothesis held by some policy makers and scholars that learning about potential adaptation techniques may reduce the public’s perceived risk about climate change, and thus lessen their willingness to fight against it. Continue reading

The Polarization of Climate Change: Scientific or Political?

by Brendan Busch

Due to the intense polarization of climate change in America, Congress has had very little success in addressing it. Noting this dilemma, Dana R. Fisher, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland, Joseph Waggle, a doctoral student studying sociology at the University of Maryland, and Philip Leifeld, a researcher at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bern, set out to identify the characteristics and roots of the polarization of the climate change debate in American politics. After examining the records of several sessions of Congress, they found that, although the general public seems to be debating the science behind the existence of climate change, Congress has reached somewhat of a consensus on the scientific proof of climate change, and is instead considering the political ramifications of legislative actions against climate change. Continue reading

The Politicization of Climate Change

by Brendan Busch

In recent years, the debate over the proper response to climate change has become increasingly political rather than scientific. Noting this, Kerrie L. Unsworth, a professor and associate dean at the business school of the University of Western Australia, and Kelly S. Fielding, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland, set out to study the effects of an individual’s political affiliation on their opinions about climate change. Before presenting their own research, Unsworth and Fielding point to a 2003 study by G.L. Cohen that demonstrated people’s tendencies to follow their chosen political party unquestioningly, by showing that people were likely to support a welfare policy that was approved by leading members of their political party even if the policy went against their own personal beliefs or the core values of the party itself. Observing this study, Unsworth and Fielding wondered if they could produce a similar result with respect to climate change. Continue reading