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Title: A study of public understanding of, and response to, climate change in the South of England
Author: Whitmarsh, Lorraine Elisabeth
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2005
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Scientific research has identified human-induced climate change as a serious threat to human societies and the non-human world. Yet, climate change is an issue with major political, economic, socio-cultural, psychological, and ethical implications, which must be understood if policy-makers and wider society are to respond effectively to this issue. The aim of this thesis is to examine the contextual deten-ninants and dimensions of public understanding of, and response to, climate change in order to inform the design of more effective public communication strategies and workable mitigation policies. This study uses a mixed-methodology approach to explore a variety of potentially salient influences on perceptions of and behavioural responses to climate change. One factor given particular attention is experience and understanding of flooding. By focussing on the relationship between flooding and climate change, this study represents an original approach to understanding how the public conceives and responds to both issues. The findings from this research suggest that flooding and climate change are largely viewed as separate issues. At the same time, the results highlight the public's tendency to associate climate change with other environmental issues, notably ozone depletion and air pollution, through conceptual similarities and moral discourses. Furthermore, the salience of distrust and uncertainty in public perceptions of climate change has been elucidated by this research. The findings indicate disparity between expert and lay conceptions of climate change, and between actions prescribed by policy-makers and those taken by the public to mitigate climate change. The thesis concludes by recommending that information about climate change is tailored to the needs, existing knowledge, and values of particular audiences. Public response to climate change will most effectively be achieved through schemes that demonstrate the efficacy of personal action and result in local benefits. Finally, an iterative and participatory approach to policy-making in respect of climate change is advocated.
Supervisor: Gooding, David ; Wimbush, Antonia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available