What Shapes Attitudes On Climate Change?

Jul 14, 2017

Climate change can be a polarizing topic to discuss outside of the scientific community. And Linda Prokopy, a professor of natural resource social science, didn’t mince words at recent talk about public attitudes toward climate change.

Pointing toward a Power Point presentation with the word “belief” in quotation marks, she says, “Climate change is a scientific fact, so you can’t really believe or not believe in a fact.”

In front of a crowd of 50 at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, outside Lafayette, Prokopy says people’s attitudes about climate change are formed by their worldview.

“People listen to people who are like them, right? We don’t want to listen to the evidence,” says Prokopy.

Prokopy’s research focuses in part on climate change attitudes within the agricultural community. She found that while farmers are worried about the impacts of climate change — rising temperature, increased drought, more frequent flooding — that group tends to have low belief in man-made climate change.

But, Prokopy also found that while farmers will listen to information on the subject from crop advisors.

She says scientists and university extension agents need to do a better job reaching out to crop advisors, if they want to influence farmers’ attitudes on climate change.

The talk was part of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center summer series “Tipping Point,” hosted by Wolf Park. The next two talks will take place July 27 and August 17.

WBAA’s Charlotte Tuggle contributed reporting to this story.