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Are conservatives always more sceptical about climate change?

Posted May 9, 2018

We tend to categorize people by their beliefs. If some people tend to think a certain way about global issues, we think that they share other similar beliefs about other problems as well. But is that always true? There is a widespread idea that conservatives don‘t believe in climate change, but a new research from the University Queensland challenged this idea.

There is very little correlation between conservative views and climate change scepticism. Image credit: Lesserland via Wikimedia

Scientists surveyed 5323 people across 25 countries. They wanted to see if there is a correlation between political views and attitude towards the problem of climate change. The inspiration for this study came from 2016 United States presidential campaign, when many of 17 Republican candidates were openly sceptical about the climate change. Scientists wanted to see if similar views are shared with people with conservative views from other countries. They found that it is not the case – in 75 % of surveyed countries conservatives didn’t show any more scepticism towards climate change than average people.

The link between conservative beliefs and climate change scepticism was more evident in countries with higher carbon emissions, such as US and Australia. Meanwhile in countries with low levels of carbon emissions there was no link between conservative views and beliefs about the climate change. One of the reasons why that is the case is that countries with higher emissions actually invest more to present positive information about fossil fuel industry. In fact, in many of these countries governments and industrial actors invest in campaigns rejecting climate change. Scientists also asked participants to disclose their views towards popular conspiracy theories, because US President Donald Trump once said that climate change was invented by the Chinese in order to make American industry less competitive.

Scientists asked participants to tell what they are thinking about conspiracy theories about assassination of John F. Kennedy, death of Princess Diana, New World Order and 9/11 attacks. Scientists found that those people, who believed in conspiracy theories were more likely to be sceptical about the climate change – this effect was visible both in and out of US. Professor Matthew Hornsey, lead author of the study, said: “This suggests that ideological barriers to accepting science don’t emerge from people spontaneously critiquing scientific consensus through the lens of their world views”.

Maybe it’s a sign that people are wrong about their assumptions? Conservative beliefs are more about values and personal freedoms than global issues. And so there are many conservative people who admit that human-made climate change is real.


Source: University Queensland

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