Forest Owners' Response to Climate Change: University Education Trumps Value Profile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Do forest owners’ levels of education or value profiles explain their responses to climate change? The cultural cognition thesis (CCT) has cast serious doubt on the familiar and often criticized "knowledge deficit" model, which says that laypeople are less concerned about climate change because they lack scientific knowledge. Advocates of CCT maintain that citizens with the highest degrees of scientific literacy and numeracy are not the most concerned about climate change. Rather, this is the group in which cultural polarization is greatest, and thus individuals with more limited scientific literacy and numeracy are more concerned about climate change under certain circumstances than those with higher scientific literacy and numeracy. The CCT predicts that cultural and other values will trump the positive effects of education on some forest owners' attitudes to climate change. Here, using survey data collected in 2010 from 766 private forest owners in Sweden and Germany, we provide the first evidence that perceptions of climate change risk are uncorrelated with, or sometimes positively correlated with, education level and can be explained without reference to cultural or other values. We conclude that the recent claim that advanced scientific literacy and numeracy polarizes perceptions of climate change risk is unsupported by the forest owner data. In neither of the two countries was university education found to reduce the perception of risk from climate change. Indeed in most cases university education increased the perception of risk. Even more importantly, the effect of university education was not dependent on the individuals' value profile.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Forest Science
  • Philosophy
  • Climate Research

Keywords

  • climate change response, forest management, Risk perception, risk communication, education and cultural values
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155137
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 25
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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