Head in the (oil) sand? Climate change scepticism in Canada

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    Determining the extent to which specific psychological barriers limit climate change mitigation behaviour, particularly in individuals from industrialised nations with poor mitigation performance, is a global concern. This pilot study sought to establish for the first time the extent of climate change scepticism in a representative sample of Anglophone Canadians and determine how it may vary with knowledge, values and socio-demographic factors. Participants(n=229) responded to a mail invitation to take part in the online survey. Scepticism and uncertainty toward climate change were assessed using a validated 12-item attitude index that yielded a composite scepticism score. Environmental values were assessed using a modified version of the New Environmental Paradigm scale (NEP), while political association, education attainment, climate change knowledge, and several demographic variables were determined using established measures. A full factor multiple regression analysis showed region, NEP score and Conservative Party of Canada association as the significant predictors of scepticism. When independent factor groupings were modelled separately, values and politics explained 31% of the variation in scepticism scores, socio-demographic variables 6%, and education and knowledge 3%, highlighting the dominant role of environmental values and political orientation. These results are discussed in the context of the theory of socially-organised denial of climate change and the information-deficit model of climate inaction. The findings provide baseline data that will allow changes in climate change scepticism to be tracked over time, and help to inform how public policy and messaging strategies might be optimized to facilitate climate mitigation behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Environmental and Social Sciences
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2015


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