Climate Change Beliefs Influenced By Recession
Americans are less likely to believe in man-made climate change as economic conditions get tougher, new research shows. Lyle Scruggs, associate professor of political science at the University of Connecticut, says the public’s belief in climate change dropped significantly as the economy dipped and unemployment climbed in the late 2000s. And the suddenness and timing of the change in popular opinion can’t be explained by politics, accusations of biased media coverage or weather fluctuations. It’s a question of believing what you want to believe, says Scruggs.
The researchers suggest that cognitive dissonance – which occurs when people experience conflicting thoughts and behaviors – could explain the pattern. Many people view economic growth and environmental protection to be in conflict, so admitting that climate change is real but should be ignored in favor of economic growth leads to an internal philosophical clash. It’s less troubling to convince themselves that there isn’t a problem in the first place.