There is probably no topic more prevalent today than climate change. Its presence is cemented in everything from public policy, private enterprise, entertainment, etc. In many media outlets it is largely depicted as a binary issue. You either believe in climate change and are willing to do whatever it takes to stop it. Or you don’t believe in climate change and are convinced it is a hoax put in place to establish a new world order. The reality is, climate change is a topic that spans a spectrum of belief and skepticism, and most people land somewhere in between as opposed to at either of the extremes. With today’s post, I hope to frame some of the more common clusters of opinion I have encountered when discussing climate change with people and provide an outline of the various stances people have on the topic.
From my conversations with folks and reading materials from both progressive and conservative outlets, there are 5 prominent climate change belief segments. Below, I have listed each of the five segments and defined them based on the skepticism that is the basis for their particular view.
Segment 1. Skeptics of occurrence. People that fall into this segment don’t believe climate change is actually occurring. Their skepticism is rooted in either direct disagreement with the science of climate change, personal self interest, or an aversion to the institutions that advocate for climate change policy.
Segment 2. Skeptics of cause. This next segment believes that climate change is occurring. However, they are skeptical of humans being the major cause of climate change. Rather, they believe climate change is a naturally occurring event that is not meaningfully influenced by the activities of human beings. Therefore, any change in human behavior to stop climate change is futile.
Segment 3. Skeptics of importance. Moving even further along the spectrum, people in this segment believe that climate change is occurring and believe humans are the cause. However, they don’t necessarily believe that climate change is as important to address as other issues. And they are skeptical of the more dire climate change predictions.
Segment 4. Skeptics of solution. This segment believes climate change is occurring, also believes humans are a major contributor and they believe it is an urgent issue that we need to tackle. Their skepticism lies in how the problem should be solved which also reveals the extent to which they are willing to sacrifice to solve the problem.
Segment 5. Fervent believers. Our last segment also believes in the occurrence of climate change and humans contribution to it. What sets people in this segment apart is the conviction they have around the importance and urgency around climate change. They believe immediate action is necessary to prevent cataclysmic events and some believe we may already be too late.
In my follow up posts, I intend to explore each of these segments in more depth to understand their respective positions, their prevalence in society and how my own views align (or do not align) with theirs.