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Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5153-5170; doi:10.3390/su5125153

On the Importance of Strengthening Moderate Beliefs in Climate Science to Foster Support for Immediate Action

School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, 1315 East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas, 1445 Jayhawk Boulevard, 4060 Wescoe Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA
Indiana Geological Survey, 611 North Walnut Grove Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 October 2013 / Revised: 27 November 2013 / Accepted: 29 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
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Whereas many studies focus on climate skeptics to explain the lack of support for immediate action on climate change, this research examines the effect of moderate believers in climate science. Using data from a representative survey of 832 Indiana residents, we find that agreement with basic scientific conclusions about climate change is the strongest predictor of support for immediate action, and the strength of that agreement is an important characteristic of this association. Responses indicate widespread acceptance of climate change, moderate levels of risk perception, and limited support for immediate action. Half of the respondents (50%) preferred “more research” over “immediate action” (38%) and “no action” (12%) as a response to climate change. The probability of preferring immediate action is close to zero for those who strongly or somewhat disbelieve in climate change, but as belief in climate change grows from moderate to strong, the probability of preferring immediate action increases substantially; the strongest believers have a predicted probability of preferring immediate action of 71%. These findings suggest that, instead of simply engaging skeptics, increasing public support for immediate action might entail motivating those with moderate beliefs in climate change to hold their views with greater conviction.
Keywords: climate change; public perception; regional studies; immediate action climate change; public perception; regional studies; immediate action
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wendling, Z.A.; Attari, S.Z.; Carley, S.R.; Krause, R.M.; Warren, D.C.; Rupp, J.A.; Graham, J.D. On the Importance of Strengthening Moderate Beliefs in Climate Science to Foster Support for Immediate Action. Sustainability 2013, 5, 5153-5170.

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