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Between scientific 'facts' and 'debates': How perceived scientific consensus predicts beliefs about anthropogenic climate in four EU countries

Abstract : Despite the established scientific consensus on the existence of anthropogenic climate change, uncertainties endure as to future outcomes of mitigation and adaptation measures. These are normal epistemic uncertainties, but in some quarters appear to have been 'translated' as uncertainties as to the very reality of anthropogenic climate change. Our study examines to what extent the perception of a scientific consensus around the existence of climate change (CC) influences beliefs about CC's existence-does it exist?-and causes-is it anthropogenic? or natural?. We also tested whether such interpretations of scientific consensus are moderated by participants' (a) political orientation-left vs. right-and /or (b) intuitive models of science-traditional vs. Kuhnian (see Rabinovich & Morton, 2012). These questions were analyzed through the Joint Program Initiative "European Perceptions of CC" survey conducted in June 2016 with representative samples in France, Germany, Norway, and the UK (N = 4,048). Results show that in line with the literature, perception of scientific consensus overall predicts beliefs about CC causes and existence. The relation between the perception of 'scientific consensus' and beliefs about 'climate change causes' is indeed moderated by respondents' intuitive model of science in the UK and in Germany-specifically, this relation is stronger among participants adopting a traditional model than those adopting a Kuhnian model of science. Political orientation was not a good predictor or moderator of beliefs about the existence of CC causes or its causes. These results provide important comparative data about how climate science is understood in Europe, and moreover, provide survey-based evidence for Rabinovich and Morton's 'beliefs about science' model. Our results also underline the importance of carefully addressing the models of science that are present, but often implicit, in climate science communications.
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Contributor : Raquel Bertoldo <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 11:54:52 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:25:24 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02528063, version 1


Raquel Bertoldo, Claire Mays, Marc Poumadere. Between scientific 'facts' and 'debates': How perceived scientific consensus predicts beliefs about anthropogenic climate in four EU countries. Society for Risk Analysis (Europe), Annual Meeting, Jun 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. ⟨hal-02528063⟩



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