Climate change conversations can be difficult for both skeptics, environmentalists

climate
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Having productive conversations about climate change isn't only challenging when dealing with skeptics, it can also be difficult for environmentalists, according to two studies presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

The first of the studies found that reinforcing belief and trust in science may be a strategy to help shift the views of skeptics and make them more open to the facts being presented by the other side.

"Within the United States, bipartisan progress on change has essentially come to a standstill because many conservatives doubt the findings of climate science and many liberals cannot fathom that any rational human can doubt the scientific consensus on the issue," said Carly D. Robinson, MEd, of Harvard University, who presented the research. "These opposing perspectives do not create a starting point for productive conversations to help our country address climate change. Our goal was to find an intervention that might change the current situation."

Though previous research has shown that social pressure to disbelieve in climate change stems from the political right and that conservatives' trust in science has eroded, Robinson and her colleagues theorized that most people would find at least some branches of science credible. Leveraging those beliefs could lead climate skeptics to shift their views, they said.

"When people are faced with two or more opposing beliefs, ideas and values, it tends to create discomfort, which can lead people to becoming more open-minded about a particular issue," said Christine Vriesema, Ph.D., of the University of California, Santa Barbara and a co-author of the study.

The researchers surveyed nearly 700 participants from the U.S. Half were given surveys about their belief in science (e.g., "How credible is the medical data that germs are a primary cause of disease?" and "How certain are you that physicists' theory of gravity accurately explains why objects fall when dropped?") and their belief in climate science (e.g., "How credible is the climate science data that ocean temperatures are rising?" and "How certain are you that global warming explains many of the new weather patterns we are seeing today?"). The other half was only surveyed about their belief in climate science. All participants reported if they considered themselves politically liberal, moderate or conservative.

"As we predicted in our pre-registration, conservatives reported a greater belief in climate science if they were asked questions first about their belief in other areas of science," said Robinson. "For climate skeptics, it likely became awkward to report on our survey that they believed in science while at the same time, denying the findings of climate science. That dissonance led many to adjust their beliefs to show greater support for the existence of climate change."

The findings showed that beliefs in are malleable and not fixed, said Robinson.

"We were pleasantly surprised that a brief, two-minute survey changed skeptics' views on climate change," said Robinson. "It is exciting to know that in real-world settings, we might be able to have more productive climate conversations by starting from a place of common belief."

The second study showed that igniting a sense of resilience and perseverance can increase action and engagement around climate change for people who work in aquariums, national parks and zoos.

"Many educators working at these institutions reported wanting to talk about climate change and visitors reported wanting to hear about it, yet many educators still felt uncomfortable bringing the topic into their conversations because they were worried about being able to communicate effectively," said Nathaniel Geiger, Ph.D., of Indiana University who presented the research.

The study included 203 science educators from zoos, aquariums and who were part of a yearlong communication training program from the National Network of Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation designed to build participants' confidence in talking about climate change. The training consisted of study groups, group assignments, readings, discussions and weekend retreats. During the last six months of the program, participants worked to integrate what they had learned into their jobs.

Survey data were collected one month before and one month after the training program and again six to nine months later.

Geiger and his colleagues examined two components of hopeful thinking to see which one might lead to the success of the training program: agency (e.g., enthusiasm, a sense of determination) and pathways (e.g., resilience and perseverance strategies) and how those influenced participants' reports of engagement about climate change.

Participants rated their "agency thinking" (e.g., "I energetically do all I can do to discuss climate change" and "I anticipate that efforts to discuss climate change will be pretty successful") and their "pathways thinking" (e.g., "I can think of many ways to discuss climate change") in each survey. The science educators also reported the frequency with which they discussed climate change with the general public and visitors to their institutions, ranging from never to daily.

Geiger and his team found that pathways thinking was more successful at inspiring conversations about climate change than agency.

"Our findings suggested that portions of the training that taught how to persevere and be resilient in the face of difficult climate change conversations may have been the most effective at promoting discussion," Geiger said.

The training program also increased the frequency with which the science educators spoke about climate change with visitors, from less than once per month prior to the training to more than two or three times per month afterward, he said.

"We found it uplifting that the training program showed such a robust effect at promoting these difficult discussions," said Geiger. "We believe that climate change advocates and educators will find this work helpful toward meeting their goal of crafting more effective training programs to boost climate change engagement."


Explore further

Teen climate activist to French critics: Listen to science

More information: apps.apa.org/convsearch/articl … 158171067.1564407200

apps.apa.org/convsearch/articl … 158171067.1564407200

Citation: Climate change conversations can be difficult for both skeptics, environmentalists (2019, August 11) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-08-climate-conversations-difficult-skeptics-environmentalists.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
76 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 11, 2019
it's simple. stop bitching about what is well within the normal range of climates within the past 2000 - 10,000 years.

Aug 11, 2019
Those who claim to care about "climate change" don't. In fact, they don't care about "science", they only want to be told what to believe and they want propaganda to hate Republicans. They don't care that up to 90 percent of all "peer reviewed" articles are false. They dismiss climatologists who question "climate change", because there's only a few, then they praise Copernicus for promoting a sun centered solar system when no one else did!
Those who care look into a subject. They don't settle for what they are ordered to believe. And they certainly wouldn't use specious arguments to "disprove" alternative theories. Those who claim to care about "climate change" say that chemtrails can't have caused tornado numbers to increase, insisting a thousand tornadoes a year hid somewhere. They won't even touch the issue that no collections of pictures of chemtrails exist from before 1997.

Aug 11, 2019
"How credible is the climate science data that ocean temperatures are rising?" and "How certain are you that global warming explains many of the new weather patterns we are seeing today?"

1. The total heat capacity of the ocean is 1000 times that of the atmosphere. Let's suppose that the additional heat is equally divided between the ocean and the atmosphere -- for my argument it won 't matter if even 25 times as much heat goes into the ocean as into the atmosphere. Then, assume the atmosphere has warmed approximately 1 degree C since the end of the Little Ice Age (1870). The rise in average temperature of the ocean would be less than 0.025 C. This is much less than anyone could possibly measure. So, one must be agnostic about the statement that ocean temperatures are rising.

(2) " ... explains new weather patterns." This question is so vague as to be useless. Specifically, what new weather patterns? The decrease in the number of hurricanes and tornadoes? Again, agnostic.

Aug 11, 2019
When you add more heat to a system, what happens?

We have satellite measurements of incoming heat and outgoing heat from the Earth. There's more incoming.

Still agnostic, @Jim?

Aug 11, 2019
Another steaming load of AGW Cult bullshit.
Gobble up, Chicken Littles.

Aug 11, 2019
Da Schneib

About the questions as posed. Yes. I do think it likely there has been some warming since 1870.

Aug 11, 2019
OK, @Jim, so why is there more heat going in than coming out when there hasn't been for 10,000 years?

And questioning another point you tried to make, it's not the whole ocean; it's the top of it. And we have measurements for that too, and they say the same thing as the satellites. What about that?

Aug 11, 2019
I am not trying to argue one way or the other about global warming. I was trying to point out that the questions used in the survey were very poor choices. They have no clear scientific answers. Ocean temperatures cannot be measured to the requisite accuracy and the question about changing weather was ambiguous to the point of uselessness.

Aug 11, 2019
Levitus, S.; Antonov, J.; Boyer, T.; Baranova, O.; Garcia, H.; Locarnini, R.; Mishonov, A.; Reagan, J.; Seidov, D.; Yarosh, E.; Zweng, M. (2017). NCEI ocean heat content, temperature anomalies, salinity anomalies, thermosteric sea level anomalies, halosteric sea level anomalies, and total steric sea level anomalies from 1955 to present calculated from in situ oceanographic subsurface profile data (NCEI Accession 0164586). Version 4.4. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. Dataset. doi:10.7289/V53F4MVP

Open access. Link: https://www.ncdc....-content

Aug 11, 2019
The evidence is extensive, and compelling. I have been watching for 20 years. I started out like you, highly skeptical of it. As time went on, and more and more evidence accumulated, I became convinced-- by the evidence. One thing I'll tell you: I'm now watching a bunch of idiots run around trumpeting about how cars and airliners are causing the problem. They're not. It's coal. If we could get rid of coal, we could figure out the rest, but as long as we keep burning coal for electricity, it's going to keep getting worse. The primary culprits are China, India, and Pakistan, and they don't want to give it up. China tried to sell a bunch of coal-fired electric plants in Africa, and it's not going very well for them. The Africans are now suspicious and not buying coal plants.

Aug 11, 2019
Agnostic is one thing; ignoring data is entirely another.

For example, compare the Wien radiation peak of Earth's infrared emission, and the infrared spectra of water, CO2, and CH4. You will find that very close to the Wien peak, there is a "hole" in water vapor absorption. One of CO2's strongest absorption lines lies right in the middle of this hole, multiplying its effects manyfold.

There is a very great deal more.

Aug 11, 2019
https://chinapowe...issions/

While nationwide coal usage has declined since 2014, China still consumes more coal than the rest of the world combined.


Meanwhile, power companies in the US are shuttering coal plants and moving to gas as quickly as they can, because gas is much cheaper-- and because they are afraid of the liabilities piling up over coal plants. China's coal burning is still increasing.

https://www.nytim...nge.html

Aug 11, 2019
Ignoring data is what these dim bulb climate denier types do. They love blowing out diesel soot and dusting us EV drivers out with their wimp old looking pick-up-trucks. I think they all need to be shipped to where they are needed.... Russia.

Aug 12, 2019
Those who claim to care about "climate change" don't. In fact, they don't care about "science", they only want to be told what to believe and they want propaganda to hate Republicans. blablahBiggestloadofhogwashblablah.

The extent Deniers will go to, to push their propaganda is beyond ludicrous.

If i put down a list here of all those so called "experts" you talk about that i can prove sentence by sentence that lied beyond stupidity that is "questioning" science, this site would instantly crash ;)

Aug 12, 2019
@Helo, thanks for following my lead. Much appreciated.

Aug 12, 2019
Earth is warming We must stop it from getting worse now.

Aug 12, 2019
@ Da Schneib

Your comments as always Outstanding. You are doing a great job of exposing the liars and conveying the truth.

Aug 12, 2019
it's simple. stop bitching about what is well within the normal range of climates within the past 2000 - 10,000 years.


This person has likely never encountered the following graphic. Many climate denier have been convinced that they have a duty and an obligation to reject all the information that clashes with their deeply entrenched worldview. They believe that they would be traitors of a great cause if they allowed their minds to be changed on this issue.

The Threat of Global Warming causing Near-Term Human Extinction
Temperature, carbon dioxide and methane
http://arctic-new...eat.html

CO2 Concentration - Last 800,000 years
http://scripps.uc...800k.png

Aug 12, 2019
Ignoring data is what these dim bulb climate denier types do. They love blowing out diesel soot and dusting us EV drivers out with their wimp old looking pick-up-trucks. I think they all need to be shipped to where they are needed.... Russia.

howhot3 aka. howShat da Turd, brays again.
This is the ignorant jackass who rolled into NYC, spewing CO2 all the way, just so he could snort the methane emitted from the ass of his False "Profit" Al Gore.
Keep braying at the heretics, you jackass, that's how you'll save the world.

Aug 12, 2019
@tehgeighalgore is posting more racism. @tehgeighalgore hates brown people and wants them all to die.

Go try to shoot up a Walmart, @tehgeighalgore.

Aug 12, 2019
''For example, compare the Wien radiation peak of Earth's infrared emission, and the infrared spectra of water, CO2, and CH4. You will find that very close to the Wien peak, there is a "hole" in water vapor absorption. One of CO2's strongest absorption lines lies right in the middle of this hole, multiplying its effects manyfold. ''

wein peak '' that sounds convincing , too bad the actual temp data doesn't back u up

Aug 12, 2019
@peak from your alarmist link

''Arctic sea ice demise is causing more heat to be absorbed in the Arctic, ''

'cept there is no 'demise' , ongoing


Aug 12, 2019
Hey where's Reality check ? hope he's checking reality , roasting roos down under

https://weather.c...tralia-0

Aug 13, 2019
Oh, the (expected) irony of having a discussion about the discussion of science!

The rise in average temperature of the ocean would be less than 0.025 C. This is much less than anyone could possibly measure.


So since we measure an (upper layer) increase, should you not be worried!?

well within the normal range of climates


Except that it isn't, and it is not the amplitude but the speed of change that is most abnormal, the latter being 100-1000 times faster than anything in the climate record. xqcd noted that: [ https://xkcd.com/1732/ ].

So we have now < 5 % uncertainty on just the observation that this is man made, correlated with our greenhouse gas pollution. But to underscore that this is extremely abnormal:

- tbctd -

Aug 13, 2019
- ctd -

"Using climate model simulations, the researchers find that the regional patterns in all these events—except the human-caused warming trend—are consistent with natural variability. ... there were no outside factors strong enough to cause planet-wide change". [ https://arstechni...as-ours/ ]

"'No doubt left' about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts
Extensive historical data shows recent extreme warming is unprecedented in past 2,000 years"

[ https://www.thegu...asses-99 ]

- tbctd -

Aug 13, 2019
- ctd -

"Climate has changed on all time scales throughout Earth's history. Some aspects of the current climate change are not unusual, but others are. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has reached a record high relative to more than the past half-million years, and has done so at an exceptionally fast rate. Current global temperatures are warmer than they have ever been during at least the past five centuries, probably even for more than a millennium.

If warming continues unabated, the resulting climate change within this century would be extremely unusual in geological terms. Another unusual aspect of recent climate change is its cause: past climate changes were natural in origin (see FAQ 6.1), whereas most of the warming of the past 50 years is attributable to human activities."

[ https://www.eea.e...-history ]

- tbctd -

Aug 13, 2019
- ctd -

"Friday, August 17, 2018, 10:26 AM - Five of the warmest years on record have happened since 2010, and the cooling fluctuations in the global climate that have helped us buffer climate change's roasting temperatures are wrapping up and making way for the years 2018 to 2022 to be abnormally warm.

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS WILL HAVE RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES ... A new study reveals that the years 2018 to 2022 will likely see unprecedented warming and environmental degradation from climate change because the cool phases of various climate modes are ending and being replaced by their warm phase counterparts."

[ https://www.thewe...e/109546 ]

We can publish the science on this a very long time, there are some 10,000 papers IIRC and with few exceptions they all concur (though the older ones may not claim "abnormal" for sure, warming is stronger now). I did not find the paper I wanted to ref...

Aug 13, 2019
Torbjorn quotes the guardian ? lol

ok , if he does that i'll post something better

https://www.youtu...3D0rjGuc

the rest of that stuff is based on cooked data , which is why when i find raw temp records they are flat .

and finally i have no doubt that every time period in future wil be be the warmest evah! thats easy


Aug 13, 2019
Don't pay any attention to @snoozie, @torbjorn, he's lying for his jebus Trump.

Aug 13, 2019
Snooze, Snoozed yet again, and as always led him to loose...Yet again.... this plonker and his sockpuppets come up with the most amusing drivel everytime i open a topic, hilarious how eager he is to prove himself uneducated and idiotic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more