Climate change is a partisan issue, with increasingly politically polarised responses, particularly in Anglophone countries. While politics clearly have a role in determining attitudes to climate science and policy, understanding the human values that underlie attitudes offers advantages over a focus on political differences. This study examines public concern about climate change in Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania, Australia. Hobart is a microcosm of polarisation about environmental issues due to its long history of conflict over natural resource use. Using a survey of 522 citizens of Hobart, the research examines the values underlying concern and unconcern about climate change. Applying an innovative analysis of human values to this area of research, I have found that, in the Tasmanian context, the unconcerned may be categorised into two groups with opposing values: people who prioritise national security, social order, and tradition; and people who value freedom of choice and the ability to make their own decisions. High levels of climate change concern are associated strongly with care for nature, suggesting that climate change is seen primarily as a threat to the environment, rather than to humanity. In this article, I argue that understanding the values underlying divergent interpretations of the threat of climate change is essential to resolving deadlock in political discourse. The work draws lessons for re-engaging the unconcerned in inclusive conversations about climate change through narratives addressing a broader range of values.
human values, climate change, polarisation, public attitudes, survey, Tasmania