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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 691–705 | Cite as

Environmental art, prior knowledge about climate change, and carbon offsets

  • Julia Blasch
  • Robert W. TurnerEmail author
Article

Abstract

Using a contingent choice survey of US citizens, we investigate the influence of environmental art on individual willingness to purchase voluntary carbon offsets. In a split-sample experiment, we compare the stated preferences of survey respondents in two different treatment groups to the preferences of a control group. One treatment group is shown photographs that illustrate the impacts of climate change; the other is shown animated images that illustrate wind speeds and patterns for extreme weather events. While individuals seeing the photographs show a higher willingness to purchase voluntary offset than the control group, respondents seeing the animated images seem less willing to buy offsets. This result remains stable when accounting for preference heterogeneity related to prior knowledge about climate change issues. We hypothesize that the differential impacts of the two kinds of artistic images are due to a combination of factors influencing individual choices: emotional effect, cognitive interest, and preferences for the prevention of specific climate change impacts, as well as, more generally, internalized and social norms for the mitigation of climate change.

Keywords

Environmental art Climate change Carbon offsetting Knowledge Norms Discrete choice experiment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was undertaken in response to an invitation from Dehlia Hannah to participate in a conference, Mapping the Climatic Imaginary through Art, Science and History, held in November 2013 at the Center for Contemporary History and Policy, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA. The authors would like to thank Dehlia and the other participants in that conference for useful comments. Edward Morris of the Canary Project was a conference participant and allowed us to use their photographs. Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg allowed us to use images from their Wind Map Project, which was featured as part of the art exhibition that accompanied the conference. The authors also received particularly helpful comments from Markus Ohndorf, Takao Kato, April Baptiste, Julia Martinez, and two anonymous reviewers. Any remaining errors are, of course, the responsibility of the authors.

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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities, Social and Political SciencesETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsColgate UniversityHamiltonUSA

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