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Concerning values: what underlies public polarisation about climate change?


Lucas, CH, Concerning values: what underlies public polarisation about climate change?, Geographical Research, 56, (3) pp. 298-310. ISSN 1745-5871 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Institute of Australian Geographers

DOI: doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12284


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:human values, climate change, polarisation, public attitudes, survey, Tasmania
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Social geography
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Social impacts of climate change and variability
UTAS Author:Lucas, CH (Dr Chloe Lucas)
ID Code:125723
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:23
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2018-05-02
Last Modified:2022-06-23

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