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

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A separate survey conducted two years later showed little change in several indicators, suggesting attitude consistency over time; however we opted to use the earlier data because of the presence of certain variables of interest.

  2. 2.

    Past surveys have indicated that 60% of the time, the first household contact is female. The respondent selection process works best when calls are made in the evenings and on weekends. Some daytime interviewing shifts were also scheduled during weekdays to eliminate non-eligible telephone numbers (e.g. businesses) as well as interview eligible respondents.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided by the Alberta Ministry of Environment. All research conducted with the approval of the University of Alberta Research Ethics Board.

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Correspondence to Debra J. Davidson.

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Davidson, D.J., Haan, M. Gender, political ideology, and climate change beliefs in an extractive industry community. Popul Environ 34, 217–234 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-011-0156-y

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Keywords

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