Population and Environment

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 217–234 | Cite as

Gender, political ideology, and climate change beliefs in an extractive industry community

Original Paper

Abstract

This paper presents results from a survey on attitudes toward climate change in Alberta, Canada, home to just 10% of Canada’s population, but the source of 35% of the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions (Environment Canada 2011). Results show high levels of awareness, but much lower levels of perceived climate change impacts for one’s self or region. Women expressed significantly greater awareness and sense of perceived impacts about climate change than men; however, gender differences appear predominantly associated with socioeconomic factors. Indeed, in all, political ideology had the strongest predictive value, with individuals voting for the conservative party significantly less likely to anticipate significant societal climate change impacts. This finding, in turn, is strongly associated with beliefs regarding whether climate change is human induced. Particularly notable is the finding that the gender gap in climate change beliefs and perceived impacts is not attributed to gendered social roles, as indicated by occupational and familial status. Instead, gender distinctions appear to be related to the lower tendency for women to ascribe to a conservative political ideology relative to men.

Keywords

Climate change Gender Political ideology Environmental concern Attitudes Beliefs Alberta, Canada 

References

  1. Agarwal, B. (1992). The gender and environment debate: Lessons from India. Feminist Studies, 18(1), 119–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Albrecht, D. E., Albrecht, C. M., & Albrecht, S. L. (2000). Poverty in nonmetropolitan America: Impacts of industrial, employment, and family structure variables. Rural Sociology, 65(1), 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Apter, T. (1994). Working women don’t have wives: Professional success in the 1990’s. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  4. Benford, R. D., Moore, H. A., & Williams, J. A., Jr. (1993). In whose backyard? Concern about siting a nuclear waste facility. Sociological Inquiry, 63, 30–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biel, A., & Nilsson, A. (2005). Religious values and environmental concern: Harmony and detachment. Social Science Quarterly, 86(1), 178–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blocker, T. J., & Eckberg, D. L. (1989). Environmental issues and women’s issues: General concerns and local hazards. Social Science Quarterly, 90(3), 586–593.Google Scholar
  7. Blocker, T. J., & Eckberg, D. L. (1997). Gender and environmentalism: Results from the 1993 general social survey. Social Science Quarterly, 78(4), 841–858.Google Scholar
  8. Bord, R. J., & O’Connor, R. E. (1992). Determinants of risk perceptions of a hazardous waste site. Risk Analysis, 12(3), 411–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bottero, W. (2000). Gender and the labour market at the turn of the century: Complexity, ambiguity and change. Work, Employment & Society, 14(4), 781–791.Google Scholar
  10. Brechin, S. R. (2003). Comparative public opinion and knowledge on global climatic change and the Kyoto Protocol: The US versus the rest of the world? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 23(10), 106–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cable, S. (1992). Women’s social movement involvement: The role of structural availability in recruitment and participation processes. Sociological Quarterly, 33(1), 35–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cecil, B., Diaz, P., Gauthier, D., Piwowar, J., & Sauchyn, D. (2005). Social dimensions of the impact of climate change on water supply and use in the City of Regina. Regina: The Centre for Sustainable Communities and the Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, C. F., Kotchen, M. J., & Moore, M. R. (2003). Internal and external influences on proenvironmental behavior: Participation in a green electricity program. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(3), 237–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davidson, D. J., & Freudenburg, W. R. (1996). Gender and environmental risk concerns: A review and analysis of available concerns. Environment and Behavior, 28(3), 302–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davidson, D. J., Williamson, T., & Parkins, J. R. (2003). Understanding climate change risk and vulnerability in northern forest-based communities. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 33(11), 2252–2261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dessai, S., Adger, W. N., Hulme, M., Turnpenny, J., Köhler, J., & Warren, R. (2004). Defining and experiencing dangerous climate change. Climatic Change, 64(1–2), 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Desvouges, W. H., Kunreuther, H., Slovic, P., & Rosa, E. A. (1993). Perceived risk and attitudes toward nuclear wastes: National and Nevada perspectives. In R. E. Dunlap, M. E. Kraft, & E. A. Rosa (Eds.), Public reactions to nuclear waste: Citizens’ views of repository siting (pp. 175–208). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dietz, T., Stern, P. C., & Guagnano, G. A. (1998). Social structural and social psychological bases of environmental concern. Environment and Behavior, 30(4), 450–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Douglas, M., & Wildavsky, A. (1982). Risk and culture: An essay on the selection of technological and environmental dangers. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  20. Downing, P., & Ballantyne, J. (2007). Tipping point or turning point? Ipsos-Mori social research institute. http://www.lowcvp.org.uk/assets/reports/IPSOS_MORI_turning-point-or-tipping-point.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2011.
  21. Dunlap, R. E. (1998). Lay perceptions of global risk. International Sociology, 13(4), 473–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dunlap, R., & McCright, A. (2008). A widening gap: Republican and Democratic views on climate change. Environment, 50(5), 26–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dunlap, R., & Scarce, R. (1991). The polls: Environmental problems and protection. Public Opinion Quarterly, 55, 652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Edlund, L., & Pande, R. (2002). Why have women become left-wing? The political gender gap and the decline in marriage. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 111(3), 917–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Environment Canada. (2011). National inventory report 19902009: Greenhouse gas sources and sinks in Canada. Available at http://www.ec.gc.ca/Publications/. Accessed October 12, 2011.
  26. Ellison, C. G., & Sherkat, D. E. (2007). Structuring the religion-environment connection: Identifying religious influences on environmental concern and activism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 46(1), 71–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Eurobarometer. (2009). Special Eurobarometer 300. Europeans’ attitudes towards climate change. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  28. Freudenburg, W. R., & Davidson, D. J. (2007). Nuclear families and nuclear risks: The effects of gender, geography, and progeny on attitudes toward a nuclear waste facility. Rural Sociology, 72(2), 215–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Government of Alberta. (2007). A workforce strategy for Alberta’s energy sector. Available online at http://employment.alberta.ca/documents/WIA/WIA-BETW_energy_strategy.pdf. Accessed February 11, 2010.
  30. Government of Alberta. (2011). Alberta economic quick facts. Available at http://albertacanada.com/documents/SP-EH_AlbertaEconomicQuickFacts.pdf. Accessed October 12, 2011.
  31. Gow, J., & Leahy, T. (2005). Apocalypse probably: Agency and environmental risk in the hunter region. Journal of Sociology, 41(2), 117–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hamilton, L. C. (1985a). Concern about toxic wastes: Three demographic predictors. Sociological Perspectives, 28(4), 463–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hamilton, L. C. (1985b). Who cares about water pollution? Opinions in a small-town crisis. Sociological Inquiry, 55(2), 170–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hamilton, L. C. (2008). Who cares about polar regions? Results from a survey of US public opinion. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 40(4), 671–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kasperson, R. E., & Kasperson, J. X. (1991). Hidden hazards. In D. G. Mayo & R. D. Hollander (Eds.), Acceptable evidence: Science and values in risk management (pp. 9–28). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Kellstedt, P. M., Zahran, S., & Vedlitz, A. (2008). Personal efficacy, the information environment, and attitudes toward global warming and climate change in the United States. Risk Analysis, 28(1), 113–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Krannich, R. S., & Albrecht, S. L. (1995). Opportunity-threat responses to nuclear waste disposal facilities. Rural Sociology, 60(3), 435–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lazo, J. K., Kinnell, J. C., & Fisher, A. (2000). Expert and layperson perceptions of ecosystem risk. Risk Analysis, 20(2), 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: The role of affect, imagery and values. Climatic Change, 77, 45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lindell, M. K., & Perry, R. W. (2000). Household adjustment to earthquake hazard. A review of research. Environment and Behaviour, 32(4), 461–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lindsey, L. L. (1997). Gender roles: A sociological perspective (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  42. Lorenzoni, L. (2003). Present Choices, Future Climates: A cross-cultural study of perceptions in Italy and in the UK. Doctoral Thesis, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.Google Scholar
  43. Lorenzoni, I., Lowe, T., & Pidgeon, N. (2005a). A strategic assessment of scientific and behavioural perspectives on ‘dangerous’ climate change. Norwich, UK: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Technical Report 28.Google Scholar
  44. Lorenzoni, I., Pidgeon, N., & O’Connor, R. E. (2005b). Dangerous climate change: The role for risk research. Risk Analysis, 25(6), 1387–1398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lupton, D., & Tulloch, J. (2002). ‘Risk is part of your life’: Risk epistemologies among a group of Australians. Sociology, 36(2), 317–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., & Leiserowitz, A. (2009). Global warming’s six Americas 2009: An audience segmentation analysis. Yale project on climate change and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/05/pdf/6americas.pdf.
  47. McCright, A. (2010). The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Population and Environment, 32(1), 66–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McDaniels, T., Axelrod, L. J., & Slovic, P. (1996). Perceived ecological risks of global change: A psychometric comparison of causes and consequences. Global Environmental Change, 6(2), 159–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McStay, J. R., & Dunlap, R. E. (1983). Male-female differences in concern for environmental quality. International Journal of Women’s Studies, 6(4), 291–301.Google Scholar
  50. Merchant, C. (1980). The death of nature: Women, ecology and the scientific revolution. San Francisco: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  51. Mitchell, R. C. (1984). Rationality and irrationality in the public’s perception of nuclear power. In W. R. Freudenburg & E. A. Rosa (Eds.), Public reactions toward nuclear power: Are there critical masses? (pp. 137–179). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  52. O’Connor, R. E., Bord, R. J., Fisher, A., Staneva, M., Kozhouharova-Zhivkova, V., & Dobreva, S. (1999). Determinants of support for climate change policies in Bulgaria and the USA. Risk Decision and Policy, 4(3), 255–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. O’Riordan, T., & Jordan, A. (1995). The precautionary principle in contemporary environmental policy and politics. Environmental Values, 4(3), 191–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Perron, B., Vaillancourt, J., & Durand, C. (2001). A global problem for a global movement? An exploratory study of climate change perception by green groups’ leaders from Quebec (Canada) and Costa Rica. Society and Natural Resources, 14, 837–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pew Research Center (Pew). (2009). Fewer Americans see solid evidence of global warming. http://people-press.org/report/556/global-warming.
  56. Plotnikoff, R. C., Wright, M., & Karunamuni, N. (2004). Knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to climate change in Alberta, Canada: Implications for public health policy and practice. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 14(3), 223–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Poortinga, W., & Pidgeon, N. F. (2003). Public perceptions of risk, science and governance. Main findings of a British survey on five risk cases. Technical Report. Norwich: Centre for Environmental Risk, University of East Anglia.Google Scholar
  58. Roberts, J. T. (1997). Negotiating both sides of the plant gate: Gender, hazardous facility workers and community responses to technological hazards. Current Sociology, 45(3), 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Slovic, P. (2000). In R. E. Löfstedt (Eds.), The perception of risk. Risk and society policy series. London: Earthscan Publications.Google Scholar
  60. Spence, A., Venables, D., Pidgeon, N., Poortinga, W., & Demski, C. (2010). Public perceptions of climate change and energy futures in Britain: Summary findings of a survey conducted in JanuaryMarch 2010. Technical Report (Understanding risk working paper 10-01). Cardiff: School of Psychology.Google Scholar
  61. Spies, S., Murdock, S. H., White, S., Krannich, R., Wulfhorst, J. D., Wrigley, K., et al. (1998). Support for waste facility siting: Differences between community leaders and residents. Rural Sociology, 63(1), 65–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Statistics Canada. (2006). Census of Canada. Available at http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/profiles/community. Accessed September 29, 2008.
  63. Stedman, R. C., Davidson, D. J., & Wellstead, A. (2004). Risk and climate change: perceptions of key policy actors in Canada. Risk Analysis, 24(5), 1393–1404.Google Scholar
  64. Stern, P. C. (2000). Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 407–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., Abel, T., Guagnano, G. A., & Kalof, L. (1999). A value-belief-norm theory of support for social movements: The case of environmentalism. Human Ecology Review, 6(2), 81–97.Google Scholar
  66. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., & Kaloff, L. (1993). Value orientations, gender and environmental concern. Environment and Behavior, 25(3), 322–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stout-Wiegand, N., & Trent, R. B. (1983). Sex differences in attitudes toward new energy resource developments. Rural Sociology, 48(4), 637–646.Google Scholar
  68. Thompson, M., Rayner, S., & Ney, S. (1998). Risk and governance part II: Policy in a complex and plurally perceived world. Government and Opposition, 33(2), 139–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tjernstrom, E., & Tietenberg, T. (2008). Do differences in attitudes explain differences in national climate change policies? Ecological Economics, 65, 315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Upham, P., Whitmarsh, L., Poortinga, W., Purdam, K., Darnton, A., McLachlan, C., Devine-Wright, P. (2009). Public attitudes to environmental change: A selective review of theory and practice. A research synthesis for the living with environmental change programme, Research Councils UK. www.lwec.org.uk.
  71. Wakefield, S. E. L., Elliott, S. J., Cole, D. C., & Eyles, J. D. (2001). Environmental risk and (re)action: Air quality, health, and civic involvement in an urban industrial neighborhood. Health and Place, 7(3), 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. White, L., & Rogers, S. J. (2000). Economic circumstances and family outcomes: A review of the 1990s. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(4), 1035–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Whitmarsh, L. (2008). Are flood victims more concerned about climate change than other people? The role of direct experience in risk perception and behavioural response. Journal of Risk Research, 11(3), 351–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Whitmarsh, L. (2009). Behavioural responses to climate change: Asymmetry of intentions and impacts. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 13–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Whitmarsh, L. (2011). Scepticism and uncertainty about climate change: Dimensions, determinants and change over time. Global Environmental Change (in press).Google Scholar
  76. Wulfhorst, J. D., & Krannich, R. S. (1999). Effects on collective morale from technological risk. Society and Natural Resources, 12(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zahran, S., Brody, S., Grover, H., & Vedlitz, A. (2006). Climate change vulnerability and policy support. Society and Natural Resources, 19(9), 771–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Rural EconomyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of New BrunswickEdmontonUSA

Personalised recommendations