About the series
Dr. Bostrom will be giving a lecture on the effectiveness and costs of policies to slow or stop climate change should, for a rational actor, influence policy preferences. However, research on risk perceptions and decision making suggests that emotional responses to climate change--such as concern, fear, or hope--may be as or more important, and that perceptions of climate change as a distant risk attenuate interest in taking action on climate change. In a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults we asked people for their own ideas about how to slow or stop climate change, then their judgments of possible policy strategies. A majority supported slowing or stopping climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Respondents differentiated systematically between the ease and effectiveness of actions and assessed government policies as more effective than personal actions. However, they differentiated little between the effectiveness of possible individual actions, or between the effectiveness of diverse government policies. Even after controlling for perceived costs, knowledge, and political ideology, perceived effectiveness of policies is positively associated with policy preferences, as are perceptions of climate change as a proximate risk. Emotions such as concern and fear—but not hope—mediate the influence of these two factors on policy preferences.