Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
William J. Smith Jr.
Fifth Committee Member
Number of Pages
This dissertation is an ethnographic case study of climate change Doubtfuls and Dismissives with the purpose of understanding their perceptions of water use and renewable energy in the context of a changing climate. I also investigate the information sources and messages they use to understand climate change and climate change solutions. The Global Warming's Six Americas project identifies climate change Doubtfuls and Dismissives as one third of the American public, and an active voice in US climate change policy (Maibach et al, 2009; Leiserowitz et al., 2014). Doubtfuls are people with skeptical attitudes towards anthropogenic climate change, while Dismissives deny any change is occurring. I conducted twenty-five interviews of Churchill County, Nevada residents, twenty-three of which reflected a Doubtful or Dismissive attitude towards climate change. The analysis focuses on three themes: 1) willingness to implement water conservation practices; 2) support for renewable energy developments and policies that encourage that development; and 3) information sources used to understand climate change and climate change solutions.
My informants perceive climate change as a natural, non-anthropogenic, non-threatening process, and therefore only plan for short-term drought mitigation. In fact, they fear losing existing water rights and supply if they implement water conservation practices. I also found that they support renewable energy in principle, but not in practice because they do not see monetary incentives and do not agree in government subsidies for the industry. In a departure from most research, they welcome development on local public lands, but only if the county accrues resources from those developments. My informants look to peer groups and trade associations for primary information about water, renewable energy, and climate change.
I use these findings to discuss points of possible connection between the scientific concerns about climate change effects, and the practical concerns of a population important to shaping climate change policy. I describe how science-based decision-making can engage this population using boundary organizations to co-produce knowledge focused on mutually beneficial policies and practices. In summary, I demonstrate that it is quite possible for Doubtfuls and Dismissives to support climate beneficial measures, even if they disagree that climate change is a problem, if they see other practical benefits to be gained.
agricultural water policy; climate adaptation and mitigation; climate change solutions; Climatic changes; Communication in the environmental sciences; Energy policy; Renewable energy sources; Rural sociology; science communication; Sociology, rural; Water conservation; Water-supply, agricultural
Climate | Communication | Environmental Sciences
Dutcher, Patricia, "Burdens and Benefits of Climate Change Solutions: A Case Study of Climate Change Skeptics and Deniers in Rural Nevada" (2015). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 2347.