There has been lots of discussion on the disconnect between the evidence for climate change and what people believe. I’ve posted on this before, and just wanted to link to a recent opinion article that I think largely misses the point.
In this article, the author seems to be warning us not to oversimplify what we learn. I don’t think this is the problem at all. What we need to do is frame the research in such a way that we don’t challenge cultural beliefs, and we explain why this matters in light of things that different groups care about.
Here is an older article that I had sitting around but never posted. I think these folks are onto to something here – this is not something I think we can fix with science communication (as the above author seems to think).
The first is that science alone cannot impose meaning on any physical phenomenon. Scientific evidence — whether about climate change or about the human genome — is always contextualized and interpreted through cultural filters. The meaning of a scientific fact is not for science to define. The second truth is that with our psychological and cultural heritage we find it very hard to engage imaginatively and emotionally with largely invisible and globally mediated risks such as anthropogenic climate change. In this respect, Norgaard’s study is valuable for her deep emphasis on “the feelings that people have about climate change and the ways in which these feelings shape social outcomes”.