Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Climate change sceptics have fewer friends

Climate change sceptics have fewer friends lexaarts
15 May
2015
When it comes to social media, climate change sceptics are the least connected

If you believe that climate change is a problem you’re likely to have more Facebook friends than someone who does not believe man made climate change is a problem – at least if you’re Finnish.

Despite a scientific consensus on climate change there are some radical differences of opinion on the topic among the public. Juha Itkonen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, decided to survey 5,000 Facebook users in Finland to find out more about how the public disagrees about the issue. 

On average, each respondent had 262 ‘friends’, but respondents who did not believe climate change was a problem had far fewer. Users were invited to complete a survey via an app on their Facebook account.

‘The opinion about climate change is not born out of facts and reason alone. Values and social networks also have an impact,’ says Itkonen.

The way a person’s social network is structured may lead to them changing their view more slowly, and polarising topics, such as climate change, tend to reduce a network’s ability to transmit the message, according to the research.

Differences in opinion slow down the transfer of information. When communicating scientific findings, polarised opinions in a social network reduce the network's ability to transmit the message.

‘For example, talking about carbon taxation in conjunction with scientific research may encourage the audience to question the science as well if the social environment has negative views about taxes,’ adds Itkonen.

g7kinsiwiuwcxecthk5zewPoll showing ages of climate change believers/sceptics. (Image: Gallup)

It’s also worth considering that according to a Gallup poll,  US climate change sceptics tend to be in higher age groups that lag behind younger groups in social media use. The sceptical users might be less social media savvy – or just more selective with their friends.

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…

Climate

With Milan announcing an ambitious new plan to reduce air…

Wildlife

Loss of tourism revenue is having a worrying impact on…

Oceans

Researchers studying marine heatwaves in the northeast Pacific, known as…

Wildlife

The notion that the Covid-19 pandemic all began because one…

Energy

The price of oil is plummeting – Angus Parker takes…

Geophoto

With so much to see on our doorsteps, this is…

Wildlife

A new decade-spanning study, in which the longest migration of…

Climate

Marco Magrini analyses the implications of the COP26 delay

Climate

Covid-19 has forced us to reduce destructive atmospheric behaviours and…

Wildlife

Recruiting armies of albatrosses could enable the detection of illegal…