Is climate change real, and is it caused or influenced by human activity? This is one of the great debates of our time – one that has been banged up, tossed around and argued passionately for years.
One curiosity of the debate is that consumers and scientists are at odds over the existence and causes of climate change. A recent Pew Research Center poll suggests scientists are 37% more likely than consumers to believe climate change is caused by human activity, for example.
That gap is also prevalent within the farming community. In a December 2015 poll, 78% of farmers said climate change wasn’t even a threat to be taken seriously.
Beth Kowitt, a writer with Fortune Magazine, has noticed what she calls a “paradox” with American farmers and climate change.
“Farmers are perhaps the segment of the population most affected by climate change, and yet a significant number of them don’t believe in it—especially the notion that it’s man-made,” she writes.
Kowitt says she picked up on this phenomenon on a recent feature she wrote that put her on “the receiving end of a lot of eye rolls” whenever she brought up climate change.
She blames, in part, the politicization of the issue, quoting Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan, who has observed that people tend to selectively credit or dismiss evidence presented to them when presented with “culturally disputed” facts. The result over time is increasingly polarized views of these hot-button issues. Think GMOs, vaccinations and yes, climate change.
About farmers specifically, Kahan notes, “[They] are simultaneously the most skeptical when it comes to climate change, but the group that uses climate science in decision-making the most.”
Kowitt argues is that it probably doesn’t even matter if farmers believe in climate change or not. You can read how she came to that conclusion here.
Meantime, where do you fit into the climate change debate? Is it naturally occurring or manmade? Real danger or political puff? Fact or fiction? Weigh in with a comment below.