Survey reveals fault lines in views on climate change

Feb 05, 2013

Climate change is a hotly debated issue among many scientists, but a new study published by a University of Alberta researcher notes that geoscientists and engineers also become embroiled in the issue—and for some, it can get surprisingly personal.

Lianne Lefsrud, a PhD student in the Alberta School of Business, surveyed the membership of the Association of Professional Engineers and of Alberta regarding their beliefs on and its causes, and on where responsibility for change rests. The responses reflected the rational, logical debates that would be expected of their professions. But when it came to being able to expand on their beliefs, the tone changed quite unexpectedly.

"Our findings show over 99 per cent agree that the climate is changing. They're pretty much split on the cause," she said. "But what was most interesting was the emotion, the , the very colourful language that they used in the open-ended responses."

Lefsrud says despite the disagreement on what causes climate change and the intensity of the discord, there were recurrent themes that offered the potential of finding common areas of interest that would allow for collaboration.

Keepers of fact: defining/establishing expertise at the expense of others

Lefsrud noted that many of the personal responses positioned the issue in terms of "us versus them." She said the seemed to claim a certain superiority of knowledge over the general populace on the subject, while at the same time denigrating the experiences, knowledge or ethics of colleagues in their profession who had a different opinion.

"It's very much a construction of their own expertise and legitimization tactics they use and the delegitimization of others, of their 'enemies,'" she said.

Statistical points of view

The findings, published in the journal Organizational Studies, identify five distinct beliefs on climate change, ranging from evolutionary to economic. There were also some interesting distinctions in who believed what about the subject. Younger, female engineers employed in government seemed to support the Kyoto Protocol, whereas their older, male counterparts—largely employed by oil and gas companies—tended to take a fatalistic response to climate change, labelling nature as the culprit. However, one group gave cause for hope that consensus could be achieved, even among such diametrically opposed opinions.

"They were the smallest yet most active group," said Lefsrud. "They were quite senior and quite knowledgeable, so they saw how they could work the angles to make a 'discourse coalition.'"

Divided by cause, united by effect

Lefsrud noted that while the survey data could lead some to believe that the level of would prohibit any sort of decision-making or conscious action, she says there were many common points of interest that could be pulled together to establish unity and effect change. She said all the respondents seemed to agree that there was a risk and that there needed to be some sort of action to try to mitigate it.

"It was interesting to see how a coalition could be built and work together to kind of patch up these factions and say, 'OK, so what. Let's set this aside. We all agree it's a risk. We all agree to do something, so let's do something," said Lefsrud. "That was quite a hopeful message to say that we can do something here.

"Now that we can understand some of these different positions, we can do something in terms of bridging these positions."

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User comments : 11

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deatopmg
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 05, 2013
Clearly, from this U of A PR report Lefsrud is NOT operating from a neutral position. If university types were truly neutral the grant money would dry up.

Read more silliness from U of A at:
http://www.news.u...BF790E86 Polar bears are at an all time high since the '50's.

"Repent, the world is coming to an end" /sarc off
thermodynamics
4.4 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
Clearly, from this U of A PR report Lefsrud is NOT operating from a neutral position. If university types were truly neutral the grant money would dry up.

Read more silliness from U of A at:
http://www.news.u...BF790E86 Polar bears are at an all time high since the '50's.

"Repent, the world is coming to an end" /sarc off


The article you linked to urges conservation measures to save the bears not any refutation of the concept that they are in danger.

Your reference to the 50s is based on the repopulation after hunting of the bears was restricted.
mememine69
1.4 / 5 (10) Feb 05, 2013
The global scientific community must say now that the climate crisis (the ultimate emergency) is "certain" not just "likely" and "maybe".
How close to the point of no return from unstoppable warming will the world of science take us before they say a crisis is; imminent or impending or inevitable or certain or unavoidable or assured or guaranteed or "will happen" not just "might" and "could" etc. happen. How can it be a crisis when not one IPCC warning is without "maybes"? Prove me wrong.
Help my planet could be on fire maybe? If maybe is good enough to condemn billions to a climate crisis, you are no planet lover, you are a doomer.
The ultimate crisis needs the ultimate proof and a simple; "WILL" happen, not just might happen.
LariAnn
2.8 / 5 (9) Feb 05, 2013
Help my planet could be on fire maybe? If maybe is good enough to condemn billions to a climate crisis, you are no planet lover, you are a doomer.
The ultimate crisis needs the ultimate proof and a simple; "WILL" happen, not just might happen.


Good point, except for one small detail - when the ultimate proof is presented, it will be in terms of "and it is now too late to do anything about it", IMHO. As fanciful as the movie, "The Day After Tomorrow" is, one illustration rings true - the vice president was steadfast in his denial until the catastrophe was already in progress (and too late to save millions of people). He had his ultimate proof, finally, but at what great cost?
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2013
Arctic methane...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OTfGBMswYDs/UQyPQJI8UXI/AAAAAAAAJKQ/zFrPQUexXaY/s1600/8453866348957.jpg

http://arctic-new...013.html
Maggnus
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
How can it be a crisis when not one IPCC warning is without "maybes"?


And this forms the basis of your argument that warming isn't happening?

Do you not understand how science works? The IPCC gets grief from the denialist side for being too alarmist, and then gets chided by independant reviews for not having said stringently enough that the problems are upon us.

They say maybe because they are trying to present cases that 'may' come to pass in the future. Would you be happier with 'likely'? How about 'probably'?
rubberman
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 05, 2013
Arctic methane...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OTfGBMswYDs/UQyPQJI8UXI/AAAAAAAAJKQ/zFrPQUexXaY/s1600/8453866348957.jpg

http://arctic-new...013.html


Nice one. Looks like ESCS in the summer....
ryggesogn2
2.1 / 5 (11) Feb 05, 2013
"Climate change is a hotly debated issue among many scientists, "
Since when?
We have been told for years the science is settled.
The media, and physorg, have been lying?
Maggnus
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
As usual, ry reads only a sentence or two and decides he knows what the article is about. And, as usual, he is wrong.

runrig
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
Help my planet could be on fire maybe? If maybe is good enough to condemn billions to a climate crisis, you are no planet lover, you are a doomer.
The ultimate crisis needs the ultimate proof and a simple; "WILL" happen, not just might happen.


How about an analogy .... suppose your house, family and everything you own is threatened by the possibility of a flood or a forest fire. Do you ignore that threat and hope it will not transpire. Or do you take out insurance maybe to mitigate the risk, or move home even. On top of that the worlds experts in floods and fires have a 98% agreement amongst themselves that it is coming. It would be the "the ultimate emergency" to you/yours. Would you REALLY require someone to say that it WILL happen before you act?

Aside from that the only certainty in life is death and taxes. Science cannot say with certainty as the scientific principle is to always test a theory. Relativity is continually tested as more technology is developed.
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 05, 2013
Poor RyggTard. Once again he just couldn't manage to read the entire article.

"Our findings show over 99 per cent agree that the climate is changing. " - Article

"We have been told for years the science is settled." - RyggTard

Sad little Tardie.

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