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How climate change research undermines trust in everyday life: a review


Lucas, CH and Leith, P and Davison, A, How climate change research undermines trust in everyday life: a review, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6, (1) pp. 79-91. ISSN 1757-7780 (2015) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

DOI: doi:10.1002/wcc.320


Empirical and theoretical research on trust has received little attention in climate change literature despite the central role of trust in determining responses to climate science. We reassess the challenge of climate change communication in light of recent research on trust across social, psychological, and neuroscientific disciplines. We argue that networks of explicit and implicit trust in everyday practices are a foundation of stable society. Climate change research demands that we re-evaluate our trust in many elements of our everyday lives in a way that is profoundly unsettling. The threat posed to networks of trust by climate science has contributed to political polarization of the issue. Such adversarial debate has its source not in competing biophysical claims, but in different networks of trust in existing socio-technical systems. We argue that a more nuanced understanding of the psychological and social foundations of trust offers opportunities for messengers of climate change to connect with alienated publics. We conclude that the challenge of climate change communication is not primarily to engender trust in scientific claims, but to re-align the networks of trust that make everyday life possible.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
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)
UTAS Author:Leith, P (Dr Peat Leith)
UTAS Author:Davison, A (Associate Professor Aidan Davison)
ID Code:96221
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:19
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2014-10-27
Last Modified:2022-06-23

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