Public opinions on biological diversity in Norway: Politics, science, or culture?

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Abstract:

Loss of biological diversity is among the most pressing environmental problems facing modern societies. Whereas today much is known about peoples' opinions on climate change, there is still a lack of knowledge regarding how people asses the issue of biological diversity. The article represents a step towards a better understanding of public opinions on the issue of biodiversity, and hence also of the prerequisites and possibilities for a more or less vigorous or legitimate policy on this issue. The analyses show that social background matters for concern about biodiversity, but only to a certain extent: women are less negative towards biodiversity protection than men, the older segments of the population, at least in Norway, are less concerned with biodiversity, and education has only a marginal effect. Hence, to a large extent, political attitudes matter and indicate that concern for biodiversity seems to work by various types of available heuristics whereby a given case is linked to political understandings of other and similar and/or familiar issues. The inclusion of other political variables (local decision-making) and what the authors label ‘cultural variables’ (e.g. view of nature and trust in science) seem also to matter decisively for attitudes towards biodiversity.

Keywords: biodiversity; politics; public opinion; science; values

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00291951.2012.744091

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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