Beliefs and denials about climate change: An Australian perspective

Zoe Leviston, Iain WALKER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the scientific evidence and consensus surrounding human-induced climate change, significant skepticism persists within the community, political circles, and some academic spheres. Some suggest that skepticism has shifted from outright denial that the climate is changing to a denial that humans contribute to climate change. We suggest that denial takes numerous forms and investigate this proposition using data from an Australian national survey (2010; n=5,036). Although most Australians believe that climate change is occurring, they are split on their stated beliefs about the causes of climate change. The view that climate change is caused solely by natural fluctuations in Earth's temperatures appears to be widely held, and those who hold this view differ both from those who reject climate change outright and those who accept anthropogenic climate change. We examine correlates of beliefs about climate change and show that beliefs are significantly related to levels of proenvironmental behavior, political orientation, locus of responsibility, cognitive evaluations, affective responses, and perceived moral duty to act. The results suggest that in the future it will be important to account for more nuanced forms of climate change denial, including denial of responsibility and moral duty among those with the "correct" stated beliefs, in overcoming the gap between beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors applicable to different kinds of "believers" and "deniers." ? Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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