Tackling Belief is the Key to Overcoming Climate Change Scepticism

Without belief in climate change, repeating the scientific case for manmade global warming simply bounces off.

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In a Guardian comment piece last week, Vicky Pope, a senior Met Office scientist, articulated a view that is frequently expressed by scientists: that climate change is a matter of empirical evidence, not belief.

But a decade of social science research on public attitudes shows that in fact, scepticism about climate change is not primarily due to a misunderstanding of “the science”.

It is true that most people have only a limited amount of knowledge about climate science (as they do about most specialist subjects). And without doubt, free market and fossil-fuel industry lobbyists have shamelessly acted as “merchants of doubt” , exaggerating the level of uncertainty about climate change, or downplaying its importance.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.