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Public risk perceptions of ocean acidification

Spence, Elspeth Mairi 2017. Public risk perceptions of ocean acidification. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

Ocean acidification has been called the ‘evil twin’ of climate change and has become acknowledged as a serious risk to the marine environment. This thesis aims to explore public perceptions of ocean acidification as there is limited work on how people understand this emerging risk. It is important to engage the public because ocean acidification will contribute to how carbon emissions are addressed. The mental models approach was used to compare and examine public and expert perceptions of ocean acidification to help inform future risk communications. Many of the findings were similar to those of climate change; for example, it was not seen as a personal risk but something which would impact on the environment. Results showed that ocean acidification was unfamiliar to the public with low levels of knowledge and awareness found. People could identify possible impacts of ocean acidification but they were unsure about the main cause, stating that pollution from chemicals and industrial waste was one of the main causes. Risk perceptions of ocean acidification were influenced by factors other than knowledge about the risk such as affect, place attachment and environmental identity. A key finding of this thesis was that people were concerned about ocean acidification despite this being an unfamiliar risk issue, perceiving it as a highly negative risk. This exploratory thesis will help develop more effective risk communications around ocean acidification with these findings in mind. Future work should test ocean acidification frames; whether or not it should be framed as part of climate change. The mental models approach allowed initial understandings of this unfamiliar risk to be explored using mixed methods and helped examine how ocean acidification was conceptualised through social representations theory. Public response to ocean acidification may mean that there would be greater support for policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Acceptance
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: Presidents Research Scholarship, School of Psychology
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2017 09:45
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/104099

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