Climate change denial and associated characteristics in Saskatchewan agricultural producers

Stewart, Sheena Ann
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

Climate change (CC) poses a threat to agricultural sustainability, which is important in Saskatchewan as agriculture is a major occupation and driver of the economy. Agriculture involves both creation and mitigation of emissions related to CC. To implement adaptation and mitigation practices producers should accept CC as fact; however, CC denial is prevalent in Saskatchewan. This study provided a snapshot of views toward CC and examined characteristic influences on CC denial in 330 Saskatchewan producers. To assess whether personal characteristics influence changes in CC understanding and perception following a CC information video, a subset of participants were randomized to an experimental (N = 79) or control (N = 84) condition. Participants watched a video produced by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency. Measures of CC understanding and perception, as well as personal characteristics were assessed before and after the video for the experimental group, with the control group viewing the video once both questionnaires were complete. Results indicated more CC denial in Saskatchewan producers than in other Canadian samples. The following characteristics were associated with less acceptance and concern of CC: lower levels of formal education, identifying as male, conservative political affiliation and ideation, low trust in science, and low mental flexibility. Viewing the video increased CC perception in the experimental group and protected against a history effect that decreased climate knowledge in the control group. Change in climate knowledge is predicted by baseline knowledge, with lower baseline climate knowledge scores associated with more improvement. Change in CC perception could be predicted by trust in climate science and baseline CC perception. A higher baseline score for trust in science predicted greater change in CC perception following the video, indicating the importance of a foundational trust in climate science in changing perspective following the provision of CC information. It is recommended that further research be conducted to examine different teaching methods (e.g., lecture, workshop, webinar) and dissemination methods (e.g., online versus in-person sessions) to see how various techniques may influence learning, as well as the way the information is used by particular groups.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Experimental and Applied Psychology, University of Regina. ix, 103 p.