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Concerning values: what underlies public polarisation about climate change?

Lucas, CH ORCID: 0000-0002-0834-1622 2018 , 'Concerning values: what underlies public polarisation about climate change?' , Geographical Research, vol. 56, no. 3 , pp. 298-310 , doi: 10.1111/1745-5871.12284.

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Abstract

Climate change is a partisan issue, with increasingly politically polarised responses,particularly in Anglophone countries. While politics clearly have a role in determiningattitudes to climate science and policy, understanding the human values thatunderlie attitudes offers advantages over a focus on political differences. This studyexamines public concern about climate change in Hobart, the state capital ofTasmania, Australia. Hobart is a microcosm of polarisation about environmental issuesdue to its long history of conflict over natural resource use. Using a survey of522 citizens of Hobart, the research examines the values underlying concern and unconcernabout climate change. Applying an innovative analysis of human values tothis area of research, I have found that, in the Tasmanian context, the unconcernedmay be categorised into two groups with opposing values: people who prioritise nationalsecurity, social order, and tradition; and people who value freedom of choiceand the ability to make their own decisions. High levels of climate change concernare associated strongly with care for nature, suggesting that climate change is seenprimarily as a threat to the environment, rather than to humanity. In this article, Iargue that understanding the values underlying divergent interpretations of the threatof climate change is essential to resolving deadlock in political discourse. The workdraws lessons for re-engaging the unconcerned in inclusive conversations aboutclimate change through narratives addressing a broader range of values.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lucas, CH
Keywords: human values, climate change, polarisation, public attitudes, survey, Tasmania
Journal or Publication Title: Geographical Research
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia
ISSN: 1745-5871
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/1745-5871.12284
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers

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