Only 8 percent of American farmers believe human activities are the main cause of climate change.
Crop producers and scientists hold deeply different views on climate change and its possible causes, a study by Purdue and Iowa State universities shows.
Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both.
More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities.
In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not.
The survey results highlight the division between scientists and farmers over climate change and the challenges in communicating climate data and trends in non-polarizing ways, Prokopy said.
“Whenever climate change gets introduced, the conversation tends to turn political,” she said. “Scientists and climatologists are saying climate change is happening, and agricultural commodity groups and farmers are saying they don’t believe that. Our research suggests that this disparity in beliefs may cause agricultural stakeholders to respond to climate information very differently.”