Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate change
|Title||Public perception of cold weather events as evidence for and against climate change|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2013|
|Authors||Capstick, S, Pidgeon, N|
|Keywords||Cold weather, extreme events, public perceptions|
It has been argued that public doubts about climatechange have been exacerbated by coldweatherevents seen as a form of disconfirming evidence for anticipated 'warming'. Although a link between perceptions of climate and weather is well-established, such assumptions have not been empirically tested. Here we show, using nationally representative data, that directly following a period of severe coldweather in the UK, three times as many people saw these events as pointing towards the reality of climatechange, than as disconfirming it. This we argue was a consequence of these cold winters being incorporated into a conceptualisation of extreme or 'unnatural' weather resulting from climatechange. We also show that the way in which people interpret coldweather is associated with levels of pre-existing scepticism about climatechange, which is in turn related to more general worldviews. Drawing attention to 'extreme' weather as a consequence of climatechange can be a useful communication device, however this is problematic in the case of seasonal cold. © 2013 The Author(s).