As scientists urge action, climate change remains a lower priority for many Americans, Pew Research Center finds. In interviews aimed at understanding skepticism about climate change, the study found that many participants are suspicious of language that presents climate change as a crisis or an urgent threat.
Those interviewed widely reject national news media as credible sources for climate information, feeling that the media present information that suits their own agendas. “Networks and radio and newspapers and television — they’re all getting paid to tell me something,” one interviewee said. “And if they don’t have my attention, then they’re not getting paid. It’s all about ratings… getting people to watch.”
Interviewees generally expressed greater openness toward scientists’ views on climate change. Still, they want to hear factual statements from scientists, rather than statements shaped by the scientists’ political leanings or by the agendas of groups that fund scientific research.
As someone interviewed said, one group of scientists might claim, “‘The world’s going to burn up,’ and then there’s another side that says, ‘We’ve already started… cooling off.’ So who do you believe?”
Among adults who view climate change as a lower priority, a common explanation was that extreme weather or any changes to Earth’s climate are natural cycles that humans cannot control. Most of these interviewees said overblown climate rhetoric should be regarded with increased scrutiny.
As one participant put it, statements such as the “Earth is going to be ended in five years because we’re all terrible humans” make her skeptical.
[Art credit: iexpert]