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EWIRE

EFFORTS TO BOOST CLIMATE CHANGE CONCERN MAY HAVE OPPOSITE EFFECT, RISK ANALYSIS STUDY SHOWS

McLean, Virginia, Feb. 27 - /EWire/ -- Mass media efforts to raise American public concern about climate change -- such as Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and the "scientific consensus" media drumbeat - ironically may be having just the opposite effect, according to a new study appearing in the scientific journal Risk Analysis.

"Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes toward Global Warming and Climate Change in the USA" by three scientists at Texas A&M University appears in the February 2008 issue (Vol. 28, No. 1) of the peer-reviewed journal, which is published by the McLean-based Society for Risk Analysis (www.sra.org).

Paul Kellstedt, Sammy Zahran and Arnold Vedlitz examined results from an original and representative sample of Americans and found that "more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming." The researchers also found that "confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming."

The basis for the study was a national telephone survey of randomly selected adults in July and August 2004. Overall, 1,093 interviews were conducted, yielding a +/- 3 percent sampling error.

"Today, information about global warming and climate change is readily available to average Americans who watch television news and who are able to see satellite pictures of changes in ocean temperatures, or of glaciers melting," the authors report.

"But discussions of global warming are spreading beyond the news media and into popular culture"

"An underlying assumption is that providing information about global warming " in effect, taking the scientific consensus and popularizing it "will lead to increased public concern about the risks of global warming... The goal of this article is to test this assumption"

"Perhaps ironically, and certainly contrary to... the marketing of movies like "Ice Age" and "An Inconvenient Truth," the effects of information on both concern for global warming and responsibility for it are exactly the opposite of what were expected. Directly, the more information a person has about global warming, the less responsible he or she feels for it; and indirectly, the more information a person has about global warming, the less concerned he or she is for it."

(Note to editors: The complete study is available upon request from Joseph L. Walker, SRA communications advisor, 703-491-3301 or walkercom2@aol.com; contact Walker to interview lead author Paul Kellstedt.)

For more information:

Joseph L. Walker 703-491-3301 walkercom2@aol.com

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