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The Social Simulation of the Public Perception

of Weather Events and their Effect upon


the Development of Belief in
Anthropogenic Climate Change

Dennis Bray and Simon Shackley

September 2004

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Working Paper 58


The Social Simulation of the Public Perception
of Weather Events and their Effect upon the
Development of Belief in Anthropogenic
Climate Change

Dennis Bray, GKSS Forschungszentrum, Geesthacht, D-


21502, Germany

Simon Shackley, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change


Research, University of Manchester, M60 1QD

Tyndall Centre Working Paper No. 58

September 2004

This paper arises from the Tyndall Centre ‘DISCO’ project (IT1.14)

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Please note that Tyndall working papers are "work in progress". Whilst they are
commented on by Tyndall researchers, they have not been subject to a full peer review.
The accuracy of this work and the conclusions reached are the responsibility of the
author(s) alone and not the Tyndall Centre.

Abstract
This paper uses a dynamic simulation model to situate the role of variables representing
environmental processes in the social construction of the issues of climate change and
global warming. In effect, it presents a quantitative dynamic simulation model of the
social construction of a quasi-reality. By quasi-reality we mean a reality that thus far is
defined by expert knowledge and is surrounded by uncertainty. A description of the
model is followed by a demonstration employing a series of climate scenarios. Clearly
there are many potentially serious limitations to the approach we have developed here,
including the legitimacy of the postulates and the difficulty of acquiring suitable data for
future calibration. However, in the broader context of promoting interdisciplinary efforts
(necessary for increasingly geo-physical societal complexities), we hope, none the less,
to have offered a demonstration of developing methodological possibilities.

Key terms: social construction of reality; dynamic simulation model, global warming,
climate change; public perceptions

Caveat: Please be aware that modelling complex issues is an iterative process and
some components of the model may change in subsequent publications.

1. Introduction

Global warming (or climate change) is, without elaboration, a much debated and
contested issue. Not only is it contested among scientists, but also among all those with
vested interests. While vested interest groups include the general public, the interest of
the public is perhaps not to the same intensity as for those groups for which the stakes are
higher, for example, business and politics. None the less, if behavioural change is to aid
in abatement or adaptation, the general public wield a large influence, perhaps one with
wavering allegiances. According to Kempton, 1991, ‘To the lay ear “global warming”
without further elaboration simply means “hotter weather”’ (p.189) and commenting
further in a footnote on the same page ‘This is an argument for referring to the anticipated
changes as “global climate change”...’ , as such we maintain this distinction throughout
this paper and refer to global warming and climate change as two separate means by
which the phenomenon has been framed by experts and attend to the impact of the way in
which the phenomenon has been framed.

Many integrated assessment models of economics and physical climate change exist,
pointing to the optimal (economic) time to introduce greenhouse gas emission reduction
targets and/or reform in energy pricing (for a review see IPCC 2001a). However, as to

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whether reform would be readily accepted by a voting public and organized networks of
stakeholders and interest groups is not so often discussed. The missing link in integrated
assessment modelling (models used to assess the reciprocal relationship between nature
and society) is the fundamental forces that shape the perceptions of the public, in the case
of this paper, perceptions of climate change, as these forces ultimately lead to
explanations of how different action and responses emerge, or are reinforced, or indeed
contested, is the perceptions of the public and stakeholders regarding climate change and
how different actions and responses emerge from, or are reinforced, or indeed contested,
by such perceptions.

We draw upon theory in political science and sociology which proposes that real world
policy decisions emerge from a broad consensus of key stakeholders on the nature of a
problem (and sometimes its resolution) backed up by a credible interpretation of the
preferences and perceptions of the ‘general public’ (e.g. Haas 1990, Sabatier and Jenkins-
Smith, 1996, Hajer 1995, Sabatier 1999). We also loosely draw from psychology in
reference to the cognitive processes of recognition and experience of change. At the
heart of a social consensus is a set of beliefs, some of which are core, i.e. cannot be
changed significantly without threatening consensus; others of which are peripheral and
are more readily changed. Hajer (1993:45) terms such a consensus a ‘discourse coalition’
commenting that it ‘is a group of actors who share a social construct’, this usually being a
relatively straightforward ‘storyline’ backed up with the authority of objective science.
Its straightforward, easily comprehended, character means that a wide range of actors can
join together in its support, whilst entertaining different interpretations of the finer details
and response options

If we accept this theory of discourse coalitions (which it is not our intention here to
justify) there may be a way in which we can sensibly include public perceptions and
beliefs in an integrated assessment modelling framework. In short, we need to be able to
identify discrete discourse coalitions vis-à-vis climate change / global warming, and to be
able to model the conditions under which discourse coalitions could form among the key
actors: government, business, environmental groups, the public, etc. We need to
understand and simulate the point at which related perspectives and beliefs concerning
the issue coalesce. The following is the result of part of a larger project designed to
model under what conditions a discourse coalition among stakeholders might form:
supportive of the possible reality of climate change, not supportive of the possible reality
of climate change, or agnostic regarding the issue. 1

To enable a more elaborate exploration of belief convergence it is first necessary to


assess the means and the influences that result in the social construction of belief in
climate change (or global warming) within each stakeholder group as defined above. We

1
We do not address any issue of attribution, for example, belief that climate change is a result of human
action or belief that climate change is a result of natural processes. We limit our discussion simply to the
development of the public belief as to whether or not climate change is occurring. Belief is the preliminary
step for discussion. At times when beliefs converge the issue of, and debate concerning, attribution can be
given more consideration.

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postulate a similarity of beliefs among vested interests to be a key factor in the
emergence of a discourse coalition. Quite simply, when beliefs are similar among groups
there is a tendency towards consensus, or at least a tendency to discuss an issue from a
similar perspective. In this paper we explicitly address the emergence of belief in global
warming/climate change in the general public, by means of a dynamic simulation model.
We assess the construction of this belief using a set of propositions, based upon
theoretical considerations. All propositions are constructed such as to allow future
empirical testing employing standard sociological methods and means.

2. Positioning our work in social science debates on social


constructionism
Our starting point is similar to Berger and Luckmann’s concern with how ‘reality is
socially constructed’ (1966:13). Directly observed experience can, we argue, have a
powerful influence upon belief, but always requires some explanatory frame of reference
provided by, inter alia, science, the media, conversation with friends and acquaintances
(cf. Kempton et al. 1995). We do not follow the more extreme variants of social
constructionism, which claim that all scientific knowledge is reducible to social
explanation. Instead we start from the proposition that certain objective aspects of the
weather are accessible to the lay public, for example, the heat wave of the summer of
2003 or the recent floods (2002) across Europe. Whilst social constructionism can help
us understand the classification and meaning given by scientists to such extremes, it still
remains the case that floods and extremely hot and dry weather were directly, inter-
subjectively, experienced by large numbers of people. In effect, we bring the social
construction of reality down to the social construction of daily reality and experience for
the average member of a society and its compounding effects on belief.

A systems dynamics (SD)-based social simulation approach is not very common in social
constructionism, however, and whilst space does not permit a detailed justification, we
will devote a few words to explaining the choice of this methodology. Firstly, a dynamic
approach allows us to focus upon the maintenance of the belief in the existence of the
reality so defined by experience, evidence, scientific knowledge, etc. We suggest that, in
the realm of the public, forces act to maintain or denounce a perceived reality which has
already been constructed. That is, an issue introduced by science (or media for that
matter) needs continual expression of confirmation if it is to be maintained as an issue.
In this paper, we explore under what conditions belief in global warming or climate
change, as identified and defined by experience, science and the media, can be
maintained in the public’s perception. Secondly, an SD approach provides a belief
change enabling mechanism, as a person who finds him or herself directly experiencing
change in weather events, or in the interpretative frameworks provided to account for
such change, will modify their beliefs accordingly.

The work of Alchourrón, Gärdenfors and Makinson (1985) and Gärdenfors (1988)
provides us with the concept of ‘belief revision’ and Winslett (1988) and Katsuno and
Mendelzon (1991) provide us with the concept of ‘belief update’. The two are
conceptually different. If a person observes that his or her belief is mistaken and takes

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steps to correct the belief, this is known as belief revision. If a person’s beliefs
concerning a dynamic situation are at times inaccurate (but not incorrect) due to the
changing nature of the situation then the incorporation of new knowledge is the process
known as belief update. This is the perspective adopted by Boutilier (1998:281): ‘Belief
revision and belief update have been proposed as two types of belief change serving
different purposes, revisions intended to capture changes in belief state reflecting new
information about a static world, and update intended to capture changes of belief in
response to a changing world.’

Belief revision in our use would imply that the individual no longer believes in the
phenomenon of global warming or climate change if they had previously believed in
global warming or climate change, or people come to believe in global warming or
climate change whereas previously they had not believed. Belief update, as we use the
term, refers to a change in the measure of belief in the existence of global warming or
climate change, a qualitative change to which we supply a magnitude. In line with
Boutilier (1998:281), we suggest that ‘routine belief change involves elements of both’
and we too present a model designed to address ‘generalized updates in response to
external changes to inform an agent about its prior beliefs.’ (Boutilier, 1995:1). While
we do not delve into the detail of these concepts, we loosely borrow them to present a
quantitative dynamic simulation model of the role of the narrative (differing in that we
perceive two narratives as taking part: the natural narrative and the social narrative) in
belief formation as it might come to bear on Hajer’s (1995) notion of ‘discourse
coalitions’.

Obviously influenced by the substantive issue, we have labelled the scale we use as belief
temperature. We assume that events (direct and indirect encounters) provide the impetus
for belief change. One should keep in mind, that although we are dealing with a public
construction of reality, the reality per se has not yet manifest. The public are assessing
clues to confirm the conclusions of science. In effect, it is the social construction of
quasi-reality.

The following first presents the design of the model, then demonstrates the interaction
between the events and the framing of the issue of global warming or climate change by
science as well as the physical narrative of weather patterns. The model is a dynamic
simulation model designed to use output from a climate model as input for the belief
model. To our knowledge, this attempt to drive a model of beliefs using natural
variables as input is unique. The complexity of the model demands that it is solved
mathematically, not analytically. Due to the space limitations of a single paper we
confine this demonstration to the impact of a single variable (although presenting a
schematic of the full model) namely, that of Spring Temperature.

3. Defining Relevant Variables


While we do not experience climate as defined as the 30 year mean of weather, climate-
on-the-street has real expression in terms of experiencing the weather. We experience
one or the other or combinations of warmth, cold, rain, sunshine, cloudiness, fog, etc. on

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a daily basis, unless of course we are in a windowless controlled environment. Even if
we are in a windowless controlled environment there is a good chance we will hear of the
outside weather conditions by one means or another. Relatively few people experience
local traumatic weather event such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. but most of us
are aware of them by means of second hand information from one source or another.
More people experience less localized weather extremes such as heat waves, droughts or
extreme cold periods, and even when they are occurring in far off regions we are again
made aware of them by sources external to experience. Our awareness of the possibility
of future weather events can only be provided by mediated science.2

Science in the last few decades has popularized the issue of climate change and/or global
warming. The issue itself has the potential of significant ramification not only in the
expression of weather events but also in changes in socio-economic policy concerning
either or both of adaptation and mitigation strategies. As the science itself is contested,
needless to say, so are the potential policy changes. So how then do people make sense
or construct a reality of something that they can never experience in its totality (climate)
and a reality that has not yet manifest (i.e. climate change)? Yet people are asked to
accept some construction of reality when it comes to accepting or participating in the
construction of climate change policy. To endorse policy change people must ‘believe’
that global warming will become a reality some time in the future.3 To this extent, to
assess the formation of the public’s social construction of global warming, we are forced
to assess, at this point, the belief that there is evidence that it will occur or that it is here.

We contest that belief in global warming or climate change is shaped by a number of


direct and mediated experiences and claimed attributions. These will be presented as a
series of propositions, untested, but, in principle, testable using conventional social
science methods. Consequently the model is constructed of a significant number of
components, all of which cannot be discussed in detail in a single paper. To this extent,
and at this point in this discussion, we will simply present an outline of the components
followed by a demonstration of the impact of only Spring temperatures on the belief in
climate change or global warming.

In the full model, within each season we incorporate the impacts of different expressions
of weather and different orders of impacts. These include the following variables, both
directly experienced and mediated by the media or others, 1st order impact: temperature,
precipitation and storms, 2nd order impacts: inland flooding, coastal flooding and drought.
These are the direct impacts of weather, both unmediated and mediated. (‘It is hot out.’,
‘There is more rain this year than last year.’, or ‘According to the newspaper this is the
hottest and driest year in 20 years.’.) There are also variables and propositions in the
model that capture the socio economic impacts of change in weather expressions. These
2
Not many of the general public read scientific reports or attend scientific meetings. Regarding global
warming we assume in this paper that the average person’s scientific knowledge comes from second hand
sources, for example, television, newspapers, or the person next door. A 1988 national survey (National
Science Board, 1991) concluded that only about 20% of the US public were ‘attentive’ to science and that
only about 5% were ‘scientifically literate’. (Lewenstein, 1995).
3
There are, of course, many claims that it is already here, but the matter of its identity is still an issue. We
do not enter into this debate.

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are termed 3rd order impacts and include, first, mortalities related to each of temperature,
precipitation, storms, inland flooding, coastal flooding and droughts (the 1st and 2nd order
impacts), with an increase in mortalities increasing the attribution to global warming. In
a similar way, we include morbidity, property loss/damage, disruption of daily routine,
income, social capital, natural capital, and personal wealth. These variables were chosen
after consulting the literature on the impacts of climate change in western European
countries (e.g. IPCC 2001b) and selecting those indicators that were most relevant, in our
opinion, to the formation of public perceptions. Figure 1 depicts the conceptual outline
of the model. Table 1 depicts the seasonal variables for Spring season only (other
seasons employ the same matrix).

Figure 1. Schematic of the Relationship Between Experience and Belief Formation

Direct Experience

1st Order Impacts


Temperature
Precipitation
Storms 3rd Order Impacts
Mortality
Morbidity
2nd Order Impacts Etc.
Flood
Droughts

Indirect Experience i.e. media reports


Belief
st Formation
1 Order Impacts
Temperature
Precipitation
Storms

2nd Order Impacts


Flood
Droughts

3rd Order Impacts


Mortality
Morbidity
Etc.

All components are addressed on a seasonal basis over a period of 30 years. We assess
the process on a seasonal scale as we perceive the potential for the same events in
different seasons to have different impacts on the dynamics of belief. Due to space
limitations, the following will be concerned with only the direct relationship between
Temperature (and only for the Spring Season) and Belief Formation.

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Table 1. Variables in the Experience of Weather by Season

The following discussion


concerns only the ‘direct
experience of Temp and the
mediated experience of Temp and
only for the Spring season

Season
Spring

direct weather Temp. Precip. Storms Inlnd Fld Coast Fld Drought
experience
impact mortality mortality mortality mortality mortality mortality
morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity
property property property property property property
Routine routine routine Routine routine routine
income income income Income income income
soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap. Soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap.
nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap.
Wealth wealth wealth Wealth wealth wealth
mediated weather Temp. Precip. Storms Inlnd Fld Coast Fld Drought
experience
impact mortality mortality mortality mortality mortality mortality
morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity morbidity
property property property property property property
routine routine routine Routine routine routine
income income income Income income Income
soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap. soc. cap.
nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap. nat. cap.
wealth wealth wealth Wealth wealth Wealth

Summer ... ...

4. Addressing the Components of the Model Segment Related to Spring


Temperatures
Having listed the variables, it must be restated that our concern is with the process of
belief formation, that is, with the dynamic interaction of the above events in the social
construction of the reality of global warming or climate change. The model of Spring
temperature scenarios and their impact on belief in climate change or global warming
will be presented as a series of proposition, each followed by a schematic representation

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of the proposition, and then by an explanation of the schematic. The entirety of the
model segment pertaining to the interaction of Spring temperatures and the formation and
maintenance of belief is presented in Figure 2 and Figure 3. Figure 2 attends to the
experience of the here and now and Figure 3 attends to comparisons with past experience.

Figure 2. The Effect of Spring Temperatures on the Belief in Global Warming: Immediate Experience
(SPR = Spring; PT = positive temperature change; NT = negative temperature change)

Immediate Experience
This is the here and now
SPR PT F rq SPR PT Frq
experience tem perature
Ef f ect In Ef f ect Out

SPR PT
Frq Ef f
SPR PT D elay
SPR PT Frq Media Ef f ect SPR PT Frq N egation
~
Positive SPR PT C urrent Media Ef f ect
~

Temperature SPR PT Gate ~ SPR PT


Change SPR PT Science Ef f ect ~
External Ef f ect SprTem p
weighting
SPT PT Accum Media Ef f ect
~
SPR PT C um lativ e
input from clim ate
SPR PT ~ Belief Ef f ect
m odel SPR PT
Accum
SPR PT Accum ulation In Accum ulation N egation
SPR PT Mag
SPR Tem p ~
~ Belief Inf luence
Magnitude SPR PT
~ Tem ps
SPR PT Tem ps In SPR PT Tem ps Out
SPR Tem p
~ SPR NT Frq
Magnitude
SPR N T Frq Ef f ect In Ef f ect Out
SprTem p
SPR N T
weighting
Frq Ef f
SPR N T Delay

SPR N T Frq Media Ef f ect SPR N T Freq N egation


~ ~
SPR N T C urrent Media Ef f ect
Negative ~ SprTem p
SPR N T
SPR N T Gate weighting
Temperature SPR N T Science Ef f ect ~
External Ef f ect
Change SPR N T Cum lativ e
SPR N T Accum Media Ef f ect
~
Belief Ef f ect

SPR N T ~
Accum SPR N T
SPR N T Accum ulation In Accum ulation N egation
SPR N T Mag
Belief Inf luence ~
SPR N T
~ Tem ps
SPR N T SPR N T
Tem ps In Tem ps Out

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Figure 3. The Effect of Spring Temperatures on the Belief in Global Warming: Past
Experience (SPR = Spring; PT = positive temperature change; NT = negative
temperature change)

Comparison to Past Experience

Same Season Comparison Previous Season Comparison


This s ection com pares belief from this s eas on to belief This s ection com pares belief from this s eas on
from the s am e s eas on in the preceding year to belief in the im m ediate preceding s eas on

SPR PT Adjustm ent Tim e SPR PT Adjustm ent Tim e 2


SPR PT Perceiv ed State SP Final Belief
Global W arm ing Global W arm ing

SPR PT C um lativ e
Belief Ef f ect SPR PT Change In Perception
SPR PT C hange In Perception 2

Global W arm ing


SPR PT Actual State 2
SPR PT Perception Gap
SPR PT
SPR NT Cum lativ e Actual State Perception Gap
Belief Ef f ect W IN Final Belief
Global W arm ing

SPR N T Adjustm ent Tim e


SPR NT Adjustm ent Tim e 2
SPR NT Perceiv ed State SP Final Belief
Clim ate C hange Clim ate Change
SPR N T C um lativ e
Belief Ef f ect

SPR N T Change in Perception


SPR N T Change in Perception 2

SPR N T Actual State 2 C lim ate Change


SPR N T SPR NT
SPR PT C um lativ e Perception Gap
Actual State Perception Gap
Belief Ef f ect
W IN Final Belief
C lim ate C hange

5. Experiencing the Here and Now: The Immediate Experience of


Temperature
The input in this section of the model, Spring Temperature Magnitude (SPR Temp Mag,
Figure 2) is simply the average monthly temperature for the spring season measured in
some meaningful standards units, yet to be determined by the climate science community,
as deviation from the climatic mean (fractions of statistical standard deviations for
example). In the current version of the model we have chosen a range of minus10 to plus

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10, with 0 being the current climatic mean. The model does not accommodate moving
means (i.e. as climate change progresses for example) and this is not necessary as the
climatic mean is typically defined as the mean expression of weather over a 30 year
period and the limit of this model is 30 years (Barrow and Hulme, 1997). The mean then,
is temporally stationary for the duration of the model run. We are also aware that
deviation is not spatially standard across, for example, a nation. To this extent, in any
subsequent use of the model, the spatial characteristics must be defined, for example, as
constituting a regional level or a national level. This level of detail is limited by the
output of a climate model in its ability to produce regional climate scenarios (IPCC
2001c). It is also possible to input fictitious data referencing any geo-spatial dimension
so as to test the impact of such a climate scenario should it occur. Scenarios can also be
constructed to represent trends, i.e. a gradual increase over the period of thirty years, or
extreme variability around an unchanged climatic mean or a changing climatic mean,
over a period of 30 years, all of which produce different results in gauging belief
temperature, or, all of which produce different results in the simulated social construction
of reality. The SPR Temp Mag (spring temperature magnitude), expressed in terms of
deviation from the mean is the only external input to the model. From this point, for the
sake of clarity, segments of the model represented in Figures 2 and 3 are presented
separately with accompanying defining propositions. While there are a significant
number of surveys that have attempted to measure public perceptions of global warming
and climate change, we have found no survey which provides the information that we
would require to undertake an empirical calibration of the model, namely how different
types of weather, their temporal and spatial scales, and their impacts, influence people’s
beliefs. Consequently, at this point, our assumptions remain in a propositional stage.
None the less, the model has been constructed to emulate the condition as stated in
proposition 1.a. and 1.b.

Based on our assumption that the framing of the issue has a significant impact for the
public’s social construction of the issue we begin with two preliminary propositions:

Proposition 1. a. Only the experience of positive temperature anomalies will be


registered as indication of change if the issue is framed as global warming.

Proposition 1. a. Both positive and negative temperature anomalies will be registered in


experience as indication of change if the issue is framed as climate change.

Figure 4 displays the process by which the data from the natural sciences is entered into
the model and subsequently separated to accommodate the propositions and also
addresses Proposition 2.

Figure 4. The Direct Effect of Temperature of Belief Formulation Shown for Positive
Temperatures Only

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SPR T em p M ag SPR PT Gate
~
SPR PT M ag
~ Belief Influence

SPR PT T em ps In SPR PT T em ps Out


SPR PT T em ps

Proposition 2. Different magnitudes of temperature have a non-linear positive


correlation on the formulation of the experience and subsequent impact on belief in
climate change or global warming.

We base this proposition loosely on the claims of Slovic et al (1979) that (in their case
regarding risk and the formation of a belief that a risk exists) one factor that increases
concern is unfamiliarity. The greater the unfamiliarity, the greater the level of concern.
(We also postulate that as high temperatures, for example, become more familiar, they
decrease as a matter of concern. This process is captured in the model.) Consequently,
the greater the temperature from the norm, the greater the impact on belief.

In this segment of the model, the actual mean temperature of the season (the output from
a climate model) in terms of some standardized differences from the mean (SPR Temp
Mag), is first separated according to being above or below the mean (with the mean being
set at the reference point of 0) by use of the Spring Positive Temperature Gate (SPR PT
Gate). Negative temperatures are diverted to the mirror image designed to assess their
impact. In the section of the model pertaining to belief in global warming (as opposed to
climate change), the SPR PT gate is designed to allow only the flow of positive
temperature change into this section of the model, the reason being the framing of the
global warming/climate change issue by science has an impact on what is perceived of as
being an indication of change. Spring Positive Temperature Magnitude Belief Influence
(SPR PT Mag Belief Influence) assigns the magnitude of the influence on belief
according to the magnitude of the deviation from the mean temperature at its time of
occurrence. This non-linear positively correlated relationship is presented in Figure 5.
Change is most notable when the signal is unusual in its departure from normality and
thus attracts attention. This enables change to be experienced. If the signal is too weak
no attention will be drawn to it (Klein et al., 1992).

Figure 5. The Relationship Between The Magnitude of the Temperature Deviations and
the Impact on Belief Formulation: Spring Positive Temperature Magnitude Belief
Influence (SPR PT Mag)

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SPR PT Mag Belief Influence
10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SPR PT Gate

In Figure 5 we propose that at the lower deviations from the norm, the change in
temperature has less power in influencing belief update. It is, we postulate, at this point
in time, at about 2 deviations from the norm that people begin to notice temperature
difference. This rises rapidly until approximately 8 deviations from the norm where the
influence is assigned a maximum of 10. We hypothesize that people would not be able to
make a distinction between a magnitude of 8 and 10 deviations from the norm (it would
just be ‘very hot’), therefore this range is assigned a maximum of 10 for influence. This
is how much the temperature of that magnitude is hypothesized to influence belief.
Complete, the segment of the model in Figure 6 represents the here-and-now assessment
of the current temperature. This assessment of immediate belief influence is captured in
Spring Positive Temperatures (SPR PT Temp). However, we consider the role of
memory and comparison to exert a significant impact on the experience of temperature
(not as such belief in this initial instance). This assumption is explicitly stated in
propositions 3.a. and 3.b.

Proposition 3.a. The notion of experience usually implies a comparative procedure with
the same season in the previous year,(i.e. spring 2003, spring 2004) and the greater the
change between seasons the greater the recognition of the experience.

Proposition 3. b. Change in temperature between same seasons will instigate greater


recognition than would stability of temperature between same seasons. This stability
concept also applies to an unchanging pattern, for example spring=0, spring=5,
spring=0, spring=5 ... in which case the repetitive pattern of change itself is interpreted
as a new normality.

In proposition 3a we address the immediate comparative process of, for example, Spring
2004 with Spring 2003 and the greater the difference between the two the greater the
impact on recognition of the difference, that is, we are suggesting that the relationship
between the difference and the strength of impact on belief is nonlinear. Proposition 3b
implies that our comparative mechanisms extend beyond only the single preceding
season and employs pattern recognition, the more repeated the pattern, the less the notion
of change, and hence the consequent impact on belief.

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Much of the logic we impose regarding the perception of change is drawn from
psychology related to change detection in visual perception (for lack of relevant literature
concerning sensate perception, particularly weather). We could not find similar
discussions regarding sensate processes related to the human experience of temperature,
for example. Consequently, the adaptation of theory has been very liberal. Proposition
3(a) is based on the theory that one of the key ways in which cognitive processes operate
is through comparison with what has previously occurred (e.g. Lave, 1988). This is also
closely associated with the cognitive response model’s claim that when people receive a
message, in this case the experience of weather, etc. they actively relate the information
(the experience of the new event) to their pre existing thoughts about the topic. We
support our use of a nonlinear relationship between levels of change and the recognition
of experience with a loose adaptation from Bateson’s (1972: 58) argument that quantity
does not determine pattern and that difference is qualitative, not quantitative.
Proposition 3(b) is based upon the theory that it is the perceived differences between
events, and their patterning, which drive the perception of change. It is differentiation that
enables change detection (Rensink, 2000). Concerning the effect of repetitive patterns,
we loosely adapt the Principle of Dynamic Constancy (Malloy,
http://www.psych.utah.edu/stat/dynamic_systems/Content/examples/TAO/Differences_in
_Differences.html 2004 ) which states ‘Other influences being equal, things and events
that share the same pattern of change over time are libel to be perceived by humans as
similar and will, if useful, be sorted into the same categories.’ (On the matter of the
perception of dynamic patterns see also Jacobs et al. 1988.)

Propositions 3.a. and 3.b. are modeled as the Spring Positive Temperature Frequency
Effect (SPR PT Frq Effect). The SPR PT Frq Effect accumulates repetitions (and treats
deviations of a value of less than 2 as repetition as we suggest that such a minimal change
is beyond the capacity of recognition) with each repetition resulting in a value of .5. It
has a maximum accumulation of 10, at which point the process begins again as we
assume an individual would not make comparison of minor deviations for a period any
longer than 20 years. SPR PT Frq Effect also has an infinite collection time (limited by
the duration of the model run). This section of the model is presented in Figure 6. The
subsequent discussion describes the mechanism in more detail.

Figure 6. The Impact of Recurring Seasonal Deviations: Spring Positive Temperature


Frequency Effect (SPR PT Frq Effect)

SPR PT Frq SPR PT Frq


Ef f ect In Ef f ect Out

SPR PT
Frq Ef f
SPR PT D elay

~ SPR PT Frq N egation

SPR PT Gate

14
Spring Positive Temperature Gate (SPR PT gate) is processed through Spring Positive
Temperature Delay (SPR PT Delay). The delay is implemented to mimic the behaviour
of a person assessing the current season with the memory of the experience of the same
season in the previous year in mind. It is important to note that this cognitive assessment
is only in terms of recognition of the present and is not employed as a comparative device
between seasons, a process that occurs later in the model. This section updates the
experience of temperature whereas the later component of the model updates belief. The
delay function returns a delayed value of input (season temperature) using a fixed lag
time of a delay duration of one year, imitating a person’s comparison of this season with
the same season last year. This we refer to as a cognitive modifier. The frequency of
recurring and increasingly hotter seasons for example, will play a role. Since we
experience the present and remember the past so as to be able to judge the present as
cooler, same, or warmer, in this cognitive modifier the impact of the current experience is
compared to the same season one year previously so as to provide a reference point on
which to formulate the experience of the current season. We hypothesize that change in
temperature between same seasons will instigate greater change in belief than would
stability of temperature between same seasons. Spring Positive Temperature Frequency
Effect in (SPR PT Frq Effect in) is designed to count the repetition of the previous same
season temperature, within a value of 2: IF(SPR_PT_Delay -
SPR_PT_Gate<2)THEN(.5)ELSE(0). If the last season is less than two units of measure
of the current season it is counted and a value of .5 enters the frequency effect. If the
difference between seasons is 2 or greater then we assume that the person will notice the
difference (a difference of only one deviation goes unnoticed). As similarities of seasons
accumulate this has a negative impact on belief. For example, a gradual rise of a low
positive deviation among seasons will not have a great impact: ‘This spring is the same or
only slightly warmer than last spring’. This component of the model is also designed to
demonstrate that repetitive patterns (even if variation is radical i.e. 0, 10, 0, 10, ...), have a
negative correlation with belief increase, the rational being that people become familiar
with a repetitive patterns, which they come to regard as the new normality and not a
pattern of change: ‘It is a very warm spring this year but it was cold the year before and
warm the year before that. We seem to have a pattern where every other year is a warm
spring.’ Here, change has given way to the perception of a new structure (c.f. “same vs.
different” studies e.g Carlson - Radvansky and Irwin, 1999). Consequently, the
frequency effect (SPR PT Frq Effect) is designed to mimic the effect of repetition on the
formation of the belief structure. As one becomes familiar with a constant pattern of
change, the less change-proper is noticed. Simmons et al. (2000) note that observers
have great difficulty in detecting gradual change even in conditions where transition is
fast enough that it can be easily noticed. We hypothesize for example, that a pattern of
1,2,3,4,5 ... or 1,5,5,5,5,5... will eventually lose it utility to have an impact on belief,
where as a pattern of +1 -6 +4 -7 ... will be a constant reminder of change, and will have
a greater impact on the formation of belief. This effect is captured in Spring Positive
Temperature Frequency Effect (SPR PT Frq Effect). Through Spring Positive
Temperature Frequency Negation (SPR PT Frq Negation), this value has a negative
impact on belief formation. The non-linear (as of yet hypothetical) relationship is
presented in Figure 7.

15
Figure 7. The Relationship Between Frequency of Event and Belief

10

8
SPR PT Frq Eff

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SPR PT Frq Neg

Figure 7 is the hypothetical negative correlation assigned to the effect of repetition or


gradual change has a negative impact on the magnitude of change in belief ‘temperature’.

In Proposition 4 we claim that accumulation of positive temperatures (as well as their


repetition) has a negative impact on the magnitude of belief. So, for example, in the
event of a rapid rise in temperatures (i.e. a scenario of 0,0, 8,9,10,10, ...) one soon
becomes accustomed to the increased temperatures and the utility of the increased
temperatures to have an impact on the magnitude of belief would rapidly decline.
Proposition 4. As positive temperatures accumulate, the general tendency towards
warming lessens the tendency for further warmer temperatures to have an impact on
belief in the occurrence of change. The perception of change is replaced by a perception
of normality.
Figure 8. The Effect of Positive Temperature Accumulation

SPR PT Accum ulation Negation

SPR T em p M ag ~

SPR PT Gate

SPR PT
SPR PT Accum ualtion
Accum ulation In

Figure 8 represents the process of cognitive adaptation of humans to a new normality.


Here we must be aware of the concepts of changing and changed, as referenced to a
cognitive climatic structure, where the perception of transformation is complete. Here,
the perception is that change has taken place at some point and a sense of stability
presides as in the case of successive warm seasonal temperatures or, in the example of a
continued pattern of equi-differential seasonal patterns, the perception is one of a stable
pattern and the pattern itself is accepted as the norm. It has become what we expect.
This is the concept of changed. Changing, on the other hand, refers to the recognition

16
that things are not the same and there is no notion of stability. Changed is a common
occurrence encountered in many cross cohort conversations, usually beginning with
‘When I was young ...’ . There is acceptance that seasons have changed over the years
but reference is typically to a previous stable state, not to the process of change: ‘The
summers of the 1990’s were much warmer than the summers of the 1950’s’. The
accumulation of positive temperatures is perceived as constituting a cognitive modifier to
represent the impact on accepted change. As positive temperatures accumulate, the
perception of continual change towards a warming tendency lessens, in turn, lessening
the tendency for warmer temperatures to have an impact on the formation of belief in
change. This is not the same as frequency (which might be portrayed as significant but
relative differences between season) but captures the potential impact of slow gradual
change or continual high temperatures (i.e. 8,8,8,8,8...). In effect, this represents the
cognitive adaptation of humans to a new normality of constancy rather than a new
normality of patterned variation. Consequently, in the event that change is not of the
magnitude to register as being different from the previous season, the phenomenon of
gradual change nearing constancy (i.e. 1,2,3,4,5,6 ...) or achieving constancy (i.e.
8,8,8,8,...) are captured in the model section depicted in Figure 8.

As in the non-linear relationship between frequency of event and belief, a similar


approach is taken to accommodate the relationship between accumulation and belief. As
represented by Figure 9 we postulate that initially, warm temperatures have a high impact
on belief. We have set this value initially to 1.3. That is, in the first year of a series of
seasons with a magnitude for example of 10, 10, 10, ..., the first of these seasons acts as a
multiplier on belief (if for example a person had a belief magnitude of 10 the previous
year, this season would results in a magnitude of (10*1.3). As warmness continues, it has
a declining marginal utility to the extent that when warmness has accumulated to 100 (for
examples, 10 seasons of a magnitude of 10) it has no impact on belief. In between the
two extremes, 0 to 100, there is a non-linear correlation between accumulation and the
cognitive modifier SPR PT Accumulation Negation. The shape of this relationship is
presented in Figure 9.
Figure 9. The Relationship Between Accumulation and Belief

1.3
SPR PT Accumulation Negation

1.1
0.9
0.7
0.5
0.3
0.1
-0.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
SPR PT A ccumulation

We also consider that external influences assist in the formulation of belief, reinforcing or
weakening the framework in which the belief is given its relevance. One such external

17
force is the media. For example, confirmation of our experience by the media has the
potential to compound the magnitude belief . If we believe, for example, that the
summers are getting continually warmer as indicated by our experience, then
confirmation from the media will act to strengthen our belief as it reinforces our
perception of the experience. We propose that the same forces that act directly on the
individual to assess temperature also act upon the media, as explicitly stated in
Proposition 5.

Proposition 5. The same influences that operate on the cognitive structure of the
individual operate in determining newsworthiness and the attention given by the media.

Slovic et al. (1979) point out what conditions act to increase public concern and what
conditions act to decrease public concern. One such factor is familiarity. The more
familiar the less the concern. Therefore, as things become more familiar they decrease as
a matter of public concern, and if something decreases as a matter of public concern it
decreases in level of importance for media content, particularly when one considers that
most media outlets operate for the purpose of financial success, not as benevolent
distributors of knowledge. Figure 10 represents influences of spring temperature patterns
on the attention to the pattern given by the media. Here, the same processes of frequency
and accumulation are assessed by the media for the newsworthiness of the event. For
example the sixth consecutive spring at a magnitude of 10 is not as newsworthy as the
first spring in the series. Equally, gradual change as in a temperature pattern of
1,2,3,4,5... is not newsworthy. These are captured in Spring Positive Frequency Media
Effect (SPR PT Frq Media Effect ) and Spring Positive Temperature Accumulation Media
Effect (Spr Pt Media Effect) respectively. As with the individual, Spring Positive
Temperature Media Effect (SPR PT Media Effect) captures the media’s assessment of the
here and now temperature. The ‘media effects’, mediated cognitive modifiers, are
eventually captured in the culmination of the individual belief temperature. The
relationships are depicted as curves in Figures 11 and 12. Figure 10 demonstrates a
schematic of the process.
Figure 10. The Impact of Recurring Seasonal Deviations and Positive Temperature
Accumulation on the Media

SPR PT Frq SPR PT Frq


Ef f ect In Ef f ect Out

SPR PT
Frq Ef f
SPR PT D elay
SPR PT Frq Media Ef f ect
~
SPR PT Current Media Ef f ect
SPR PT Gate ~

SPT PT Accum Media Ef f ect


~

SPR Tem p SPR PT


~
Magnitude Accum
SPR PT Accum ulation In

18
Figure 11. The Relationship Between Spring Positive Temperature Frequency Media
Effect and Individual Belief Update.

1.3
SPR PT Frq Media Effect

1.25

1.2

1.15

1.1

1.05

1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SPR PT Frq Ef f ect

In the relationship in Figure 11 we suggest that the first instance of change, that is media
reports presented to the individual, will have a positive impact on belief update. The first
reports will increase the belief temperature by approximately 1.3. This declines to the
point where saturation suggests the media has no further impact. The effect is similar to
the concept of ‘ risk amplification’ (Kasperson et al., 1992, 1996.) whereby the media
acts to increase the public perception of a given risk and to the work of Cacioppo and
Petty (1979) who investigated the persuasive effects of message repetition on cognitive
response, concluding that there is a threshold at which repetition causes the impact of the
message to decline.
Figure 12. The Relationship Between Spring Positive Temperature Accumulation Media
Effect and Individual Belief Update.

19
1.3

SPR PT Accumulation Negation 1.1


0.9
0.7
0.5
0.3
0.1
-0.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
SPR PT A ccumulation

Proposition 6. The effect of science on public belief is directly related to current


weather, the greater the variance of weather from accustomed conditions, the greater the
influence of science, assuming that there is a strong consensus within the scientific
community concerning the knowledge underpinning climate change.4
Figure 13. The Impact of Science on the Formation of the Public Belief in Global
Warming

SPR PT Gate ~
SPR PT Science Effect

The relationship between temperature and the effect of science is presented in Figure 14.
Figure 14. The Relationship Between Temperature and the Effect of Science on the
Belief of the Public.

1.3
SPR PT Science Effect

1.25
1.2
1.15
1.1
1.05
1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SPR PT Gate

The science effect is not necessarily to do with the current state of the temperature. It
might well be associated with the new scientific findings, such as model outputs, new
empirical analyses, etc. consequently the model is designed so as to easily accommodate
new modifying variables such as new scientific findings, new analyses, etc. However,
media attention to the science reports are indeed effected by current conditions.
Empirical evidence includes that way that the ‘quality’ British media established a strong

4
Logan (1991) emphasize the interactive character of communications between science and the public.

20
link between the hot summers of 1995 and 2003 and scientific papers analyzing the
extent and pattern of climate change (e.g. Shackley et al. 1996). Therefore, we
hypothesis that indirectly science will have a greater impact on belief in times of higher
temperatures, severe drought, or weather events which are understood to be associated
with climate change. The above components conclude, with one exception, what we
have deemed to constitute the forces that shape belief in climate change or global
warming in a here and now situation of spring temperatures. In the model we have also
allowed for a weighting of the seasons which would accommodate the public’s
perceptions of which seasonal changes endorse or discredit the belief in global warming,
with summer and winter weighted as a value of 1 and spring and autumn 0.75 leading to
proposition 7.

Proposition 7: Seasonal weather anomalies have a different degree of cognitive impact


dependent upon the season in which the anomaly occurs. Hypothetically we suggest that
anomalous weather in winter and summer will have a greater impact on belief in climate
change than anomalous weather in spring and autumn, seasons more readily accepted as
seasons typically having significant variance.

We cannot theoretically or empirically substantiate proposition 7 other than to loosely


connect it with the previous discussion of change, dynamic patterns, etc. It seems logical
that the Springs and Autumns are more typically prone to greater varied weather
conditions than Summers and Winters: characterization portrays summers as warm
seasons and winters as cool seasons, whereas spring and autumn are not so easily defined
commonplace experience. This is evident in meteorological records (e.g. Barrow and
Hulme, 1997) Consequently, we hypothesize that individuals accept the possibility of
varied weather both within seasons and between seasons as the norm.

In the complete model segment presented in Figure 2 all effects, both direct and indirect,
of the here and now are captured in the Spring Positive Temperature Cumulative Belief
Effect (SPR PT Cumulative Belief Effect) and the Spring Negative Temperature
Cumulative Belief Effect (SPR NT Cumulative Belief Effect) and are subsequently
adjusted by the weighting assigned to the season by means of Spring Weighting (SPR
Weight).

6. Experiencing the Here and Now: Comparison to Past Experience


At this point, the model has accounted for the here and now influences of temperature,
media and science on the formation of belief. There are however, further comparative
processes that come into play. This is the comparison of the current season with the
immediate past season (i.e. the sense of normality of a spring with the sense of normality
of the previous winter) and the comparison of the current season with the same season in
the previous year (i.e. the sense of normality of this spring with the sense of normality
last spring), as presented in Figure 3. For example, if I am experiencing a warm spring
following a cold winter, when I make a comparative judgment it is not so likely that a
warm spring will be so convincing of the possibility that global warming has arrived than
if it had been a warm winter as well. In the same manner, if I am experiencing a warm

21
spring this year but remember that last year was a cold spring, my current experience of a
warm spring is not likely to be as convincing that global warming has arrived than if this
was my experience of a second warm spring. From this, we derive two propositions
regarding comparative tendencies of people in formulating a belief about global warming
or climate change.

Proposition 8.a. People make judgment about the current season in the context of its
nature compared to the immediate previous season and average the two in the formation
of a current assessment.

Proposition 8.b. People make judgment about the current season in the context of its
relationship to the same season last year.

Here, the same season last year and the previous season this year constitute the substrate
upon which change detection is based and that change is referenced to this structure.5
Propositions 8.a. and 8.b have different impacts according to whether the issues is framed
as climate change or global warming. For those individuals influenced by the concept of
climate change, any significant variation, we hypothesize, will have a significant positive
influence on belief. For those individuals influenced by the concept of global warming, a
significantly cooler same season the previous year or a cooler preceding season will have
a negative impact on belief formation. In both of the comparisons to the previous same
season and to the immediate preceding season we attempt to capture the impact of
adaptive expectations. Typically, a belief is adjusted when it is perceived by the subject
to be in error, that is, when the actual state of affairs (the here and now experience)
differs from the perceived state of affairs (belief in climate change or global warming).
The larger the error the greater the rate of adjustment. Typically, the adjustment will be
in response to the gap between current belief and actual value of the here and now, and
there is asymmetry in the rate at which belief is adjusted. How this is attended to in the
model is represented in Proposition 9.

Proposition 9. When experience is contrary to belief a decrease in belief is


proportionally greater than the increase in belief when evidence confirms belief.

Here we propose that there is asymmetry in the rate at which belief is adjusted, slowly up
and quickly down. The full process of Proposition 9 is captured in Figure 3 where
comparisons are made with the immediate preceding season and the same season of the
previous year, one segment modelling the impact of negative temperatures and one
segment modelling the impact of positive temperatures. SPR PT Cumulative Belief
Effect is the input from the here and now assessment of positive temperature. SPR NT
Cumulative Belief Effect is the input from the here and now assessment of negative
temperature. (Positive and negative do not refer to the magnitude of temperature but to
the direction of temperature change.) In the case when the issue is framed as global

5
Kempton (1991: 190) raised relevant questions concerning such issues: 1. ‘How do people integrate
casual weather observations and draw conclusions from them ?’ and 2. ‘If climate begins to change, would
the average citizen notice?’. Empirical investigation does not seem to have been forthcoming.

22
warming the negative influence is subtracted from the positive influence, emphasizing
warming. In the case when the issue is framed as climate change (shown in Figure 2) the
negative influence is squared and its square root is added to the positive influence,
emphasizing change. For global warming, this is represented in SPR PT Actual State.
Actual State is then compared to established belief magnitude (SPR PT Perceived State
Global Warming) where a comparison confirms existing belief, increases existing belief
or decreases existing belief. Decrease occurs quicker than increase. The output from the
same season comparison is then fed to the previous season comparison where the belief
level generated in the immediate previous season (WINter Final Belief Global Warming)
is compared to the belief level generated by the here and now experience and the
comparison of the here and now experience with the same season last year. Following a
similar procedure and rules of adjustment, the final level of belief for this period in time
is captured in SP Final Belief Global Warming or SP Final Belief Climate Change
(shown in Figure 3).

7. Selected Results

7.1. Model Input: Temperature Scenarios

While the model is designed to accept the input directly from climate models, for the
purpose of illustration we have employed a series of fictional climate change scenarios,
each designed to represent potential climate change trajectories. In all, there are 9
scenarios, each representing a different pattern of Spring temperature change for a 30
year period. In the scenarios we have employed a scale of -10 to +10 to represent change
from the norm, as stated previously. The units at this point remain arbitrary. The
patterns of change are represented in Table 2.

Table 2: Changing Spring Temperature Scenarios

1 5 6 8 9
Scenario 2 3 4 7
Test 1max
Test 2 Gradual Rapid Rapid Maintained Gradual
sustained
var. max Test 3 Test 4 warming variation lasting mean cooling
variation max min warming
Year
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 10 -10 10 -10 0 -5 0 -3 -2
2 10 10 10 -10 1 -2 2 -5 -3
3 10 -10 10 -10 1 5 4 4 -1
4 10 10 10 -10 2 9 6 8 1
5 10 -10 10 -10 2 2 8 -3 -2
6 10 10 10 -10 3 -4 10 5 3
7 -10 -10 10 -10 3 0 10 -4 0
8 -10 10 10 -10 3 0 10 -4 -4
9 -10 -10 10 -10 4 -5 10 2 -3

23
10 -10 10 10 -10 4 -2 10 3 -4
11 -10 -10 10 -10 4 2 10 9 4
12 -10 10 10 -10 4 5 10 5 2
13 10 -10 10 -10 5 9 10 -9 -1
14 10 10 10 -10 5 8 10 -4 0
15 10 -10 10 -10 4 4 10 -2 -2
16 10 10 10 -10 6 6 10 4 -3
17 10 -10 10 -10 6 1 10 -4 -5
18 10 10 10 -10 6 0 10 -5 2
19 -10 -10 10 -10 7 -3 10 0 3
20 -10 10 10 -10 7 -5 10 2 0
21 -10 -10 10 -10 7 -3 10 -4 -4
22 -10 10 10 -10 8 0 10 2 -3
23 -10 -10 10 -10 8 0 10 -2 -7
24 -10 10 10 -10 9 2 10 8 0
25 10 -10 10 -10 9 5 10 7 2
26 10 10 10 -10 9 7 10 2 -2
27 10 -10 10 -10 9 8 10 -8 -3
28 10 10 10 -10 9 9 10 -7 -4
29 10 -10 10 -10 10 5 10 3 -4
30 10 10 10 -10 10 2 10 0 2

7.2. Model Output: Belief Level

We will begin by presenting the results of the least probable Spring temperature
scenarios, notably tests 1,2,3, and 4(scenarios 1 through 4). While these scenarios are
hardly probable, they are presented to highlight the model’s responses to such trends and
illustrate the implications of the arguments contained within the propositions. The results
of the model runs are presented in the following series of figures. Winter temperatures
are held constant (so as to have no impact) throughout the analysis. Spring temperature
patterns are presented within the figure.

Scenario 1: maximum variation for sustained periods

This temperature scenario represents sustained periods of maximum high and minimum
low variation from the climatic mean.
Figure 16. Scenario 1 Long Term Maintained Maximum Variance of Spring
Temperatures

Spring Temperature Scenario


Belief Temperature

100
80
10 60
40
Temp Change

5
20
0 0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-5
Y ears
-10
Y ear
CC GW

24
This scenario nicely demonstrates the impact of the framing of the issue with belief in
climate change (as opposed to belief in global warming) maintaining a significantly
higher level throughout the scenario, declining towards the end of the scenario where
patterned weather behaviour begins to have an impact on belief.

Scenario 2: maximum variation, magnitude and variability

This scenario not only represents the maximum high and minimum low temperature
differences from the norm but also the maximum in terms of speed of change.

Figure 17. Scenario 2 Maximum Short Term Variance of Spring Temperatures From One
Spring to Next

Climate Scenario
Belief Temperature

50
40
10 30
Temp Change

20
5
10
0 0
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-5 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
Y ears
-10
Year
CC GW

In Figure 17 a significant impact of the patterned effect is demonstrated, however, again


the framing of the issue as climate change leads to higher levels of belief. The rapid
volatility in Figure 17 weakens the effect of accumulation and amplifies the effect of
‘repetitive pattern’ in the mechanics of the model.

Scenario 3: maximum negative change

In climate scenario 3, temperature is keep at a sustained minimum.

Figure 18. Scenario 3 Sustained Low Spring Temperature

25
Climate Scenario

Belief Temperature
60

Temp Change 10 40

5 20

0 0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-5
Y ears
-10
Y ear
CC GW

Results in Figure 18 indicate that only when the issue is framed as climate change is there
an impact on belief.

Scenario 4: maximum positive change

In Scenario 4, the temperature scenario is the complete opposite of Scenario 3, that is


with an immediate rise to the maximum and sustained maximum throughout.

Figure 19. Scenario 4 Sustained High Spring Temperature

Climate Scenario
Belief Temperature

80
60
10
Temp Change

8 40
6 20
4 0
2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 Y ears

Year
CC GW

In Figure 19, as this Spring temperature represents sustained high warming the impact on
belief is the same regardless of the framing of the issue. However it demonstrates the
declining utility of sustained temperatures on belief. In effect it represents the impact of
the experience of a new Spring temperature normality and is accepted as the normal state
of affairs after approximately 15 years when the belief begins to decline. This impact can
be accounted for by two mechanisms: first, we postulate that people with a memory of
climate longer than 15 years accept the change as a new normality; second, those people
who were young at the beginning of the scenario have no recollection of Spring
temperatures as being anything different and therefore do not suspect change (i.e.
warming). The next series of scenarios represent a higher level of probability of
occurrence than the preceding scenarios.

26
Scenario 5: gradual warming

Scenario 5 indicates a plausible scenario according to claims made by the climate


sciences. This is a continuous and gradual rise in temperature, represented here as
somewhat of an ideal type.
Figure 20. Scenario 5 Gradual Spring Temperature Warming

Climate Scenario
80

Belief Temperature
60
10
Temp Change

8 40
6 20
4
0
2
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 Y ears

Year
CC GW

In Figure 20, as the scenario is one of constant warming Spring temperatures,


there is no distinction caused by the framing of the issue. The fall of belief levels can be
attributed to the slow rise in temperatures during which change between Spring seasons,
at times, goes unnoticed and the accumulation of ‘warm’ experience tends to dampen the
experience of warming.

Scenario 6: rapid variation

Spring Temperature Scenario 6 is also a plausible result of climate change according to


expert knowledge. This is a scenario of significant and relatively rapid change in
magnitude.
Figure 21. Scenario 6 Rapid Variation in Spring Temperatures

Climate Scenario
Belief Temperature

60

10 40
temperature change

5 20

0 0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-5
-10 Y ears

year
CC GW

In Figure 21, the rapid variation in Spring temperatures scenario demonstrates the
influence of the framing of the issue, with the negative temperatures continuing to have a
positive effect on the belief levels within the context of climate change and reaching
higher belief levels than if the issue is framed as global warming. At extreme low
temperature levels and sustained patterns of cooling, both belief in climate change and

27
belief in global warming decline. The decline in belief in climate change can be attributed
to the patterned structure of the climate history. Both the structure of the pattern and the
magnitude contribute to the decline in belief in global warming.

Scenario 7: rapid variation around unchanging mean

Scenario 7 represents rapid variation around a steady mean, in other words, variation but
no climate change as defined by the concept of climate being a mean of 30 years of
weather.

Figure 22. Scenario 7 Variation Around the Base Climatic Mean

Climate Scenario
60
Belief Temperature

50
10 40
30
Temp Change

5
20
0 10
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0
-5 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-10 Y ears

Y ear
CC GW

In Figure 22 the mean is maintained at 0 representing no climatic change, only variation


around the mean. As the public have been told that climate is changing, the short term
experience of Spring temperature change acts to confirm publicized expert knowledge
claiming change when in effect, the 30 year climatic mean remains constant. This
demonstrates the impact of the interaction between knowledge and experience,
emphasizing the role of expert knowledge and the likely inability of perceiving accurate
assessment over extended periods of change; people do not live in averages.

Scenario 8: gradual cooling

28
Temperature scenario 8 depicts a trend of gradual cooling of Spring temperatures,
according to expert knowledge, not outside of the realm of possibility for some regions

Figure 23. Scenario 8 Gradual Cooling of Spring Temperature

Climate Scenario

Belief Temperature
25
20
10 15
10
Temp Change

5
5
0 0
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
-5
Y ears
-10
Y ear
CC GW

In the gradual cooling Spring temperature scenario, Figure 23, even though the 30 year
climatic mean is decreasing the periods of higher than normal temperatures have an
impact on the belief in the issue framed as global warming. Belief declines at the end of
the scenario for two reasons: 1.with the issue framed as global warming the lack of
warmer temperatures keeps the belief level low and the repetitive pattern of temperature
change acts to construct a new normality; 2. with the issue framed as climate change, the
constant variation from the norm increases belief to a higher level but again, the
repetitive patterns comes to represent a new normality, that is the pattern of change itself
is interpreted as being persistent.

Scenario 9: rapid and sustained warming

Scenario 9 depicts the worst case scenario as has been suggested as a possibility by some
climate science experts, that of a sudden and sustained rise in temperature.
Figure 24. Scenario 9 Rapid and Sustained Warming of Spring Temperatures

Climate Scenario
Belief Temperature

80
60
10
Temp Change

40
20
5
0
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30
0
Y ears
0 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
Y ear
CC GW

While the scenario in Figure 24 approximates the scenario in Figure 19, Sustained High
Spring Temperature Scenario, the difference is in the advance of the warming, taking 5
years (as opposed to one year) to reach the maximum level of change. The repetition of a

29
constant temperature (as opposed to the repetition of a pattern) plays a significant role in
establishing a new normality and the decline of belief.

Figure 25 provides a summary of the maximum belief levels achieved for each scenario.

Figure 25. Maximum Belief Levels Achieved for 9 Spring Temperature Scenarios

30
90
80
70
Belief Temperature

60
50 Climate Change
40 Global W arming

30

20
10
0
Sustained High Temperature
Maximum Short Term Variance

Sustained Low Temperature


Long Term Maintained Maximum

Variation Around Maintained Mean


Rapid Variation

Gradual Cooling
Gradual Warming

Rapid Sustained Warming


Variation

Spring Temperature Scenario

Figure 25 demonstrates that in those scenarios where only warming conditions occur the
framing of the issue has no impact. The value of the belief as framed by climate change
reaches the highest level of all belief under conditions of maximum sustained variance as
presented in Scenario 1. As framed as global warming, however, the highest level of
belief is achieved with a gradually warming scenario.

8. Conclusion
The simulated results above have been for demonstrative purpose only and have
considered only the1st order impact of climate change, i.e. temperature change.
Temperature alone, unless extreme in either rise or fall in a relatively short time frame is
not likely to have as significant an impact on belief formation as are 2nd order impacts in
the form of extreme events, i.e. flooding, drought, etc. These in turn are not likely to
have as significant an impact unless they touch on the human socio-economic experience,
3rd order impacts. At this point in the model construction we hypothesize that these 3rd
order impacts will have the greatest impact on belief but that this will depend upon the
spatial distribution of the extreme event. The complete model is in the process of
construction, according to the categories as presented in Table 1.

31
Science, of course, has framed the issue of climate change/global warming. We propose
that in those countries where climate change has become the predominant popular term
for the phenomenon, unseasonably cold temperatures, for example, are also interpreted to
reflect climate change/global warming, and is indeed often reported as such by science
through the general media. In those countries where global warming has become the
predominant popular term for the phenomenon of climate change/global warming,
unseasonably cold weather is seen as a refutation of the phenomenon and indeed will
lessen the belief temperature. In effect, by constructing the model this way we have
provided a means to address the impact of the way in which an issue is framed by science
and the impact of the order in which the phenomenon unfolds in the physical world.

Should climate models be able to deliver the level of input necessary for this model of
experience and belief in the phenomenon of climate change (or global warming) the
results of such an analysis of belief formation offer an opportunity to better understand
the implications of different policy strategies, measures and instruments with respect to
public perceptions – in favour, against, or not especially interested either way. Clearly
there are many potentially serious limitations to the approach we have developed here,
including the legitimacy of the postulates and the difficulty of acquiring suitable data for
future calibration. In the broader context of promoting interdisciplinary efforts
(necessary for increasingly geo-physical societal complexities), we hope, none the less,
to have offered a demonstration of developing methodological possibilities.

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36
The trans-disciplinary Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research undertakes integrated research into the
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Research at the Tyndall Centre is organised into four research themes that collectively contribute to all
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mitigation and adaptation policies at local, national and global scales.
The Tyndall Centre is named after the 19th century UK scientist John Tyndall, who was the first to prove the
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The Tyndall Centre is a partnership of the following institutions:
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Energy Research Unit (CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)
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Tyndall Working Papers are available online at


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Mitchell, T. and Hulme, M. (2000). A Country-by- Shackley, S. and Gough, C., (2002). The Use of
Country Analysis of Past and Future Warming Integrated Assessment: An Institutional
Rates, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 1. Analysis Perspective, Tyndall Centre Working
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Hulme, M. (2001). Integrated Assessment
Models, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 2. Köhler, J.H., (2002). Long run technical change
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Socio-economic futures in climate change
Kondratiev waves, Tyndall Centre Working Paper
impact assessment: using scenarios as
15.
'learning machines', Tyndall Centre Working
Paper 3. Adger, W.N., Huq, S., Brown, K., Conway, D. and
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Barker, T. and Ekins, P. (2001). How High are
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the Costs of Kyoto for the US Economy?,
Policy and Research, Tyndall Centre Working
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Barnett, J. (2001). The issue of 'Adverse Effects
Dutton, G., (2002). Hydrogen Energy
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UNFCCC, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 5.
Watson, J. (2002). The development of large
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Watson, W. J. (2002). Renewables and CHP
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Gough, C., Taylor, I. and Shackley, S. (2001).
Watson, W.J., Hertin, J., Randall, T., Gough, C.
Burying Carbon under the Sea: An Initial
(2002). Renewable Energy and Combined Heat
Exploration of Public Opinions, Tyndall Centre
and Power Resources in the UK, Tyndall Centre
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Barker, T. (2001). Representing the Integrated
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adaptation to climate change, Tyndall Centre
and Mitigation, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 11.
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Dessai, S., (2001). The climate regime from
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the Kyoto Protocol?, Tyndall Centre Working
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Dewick, P., Green K., Miozzo, M., (2002).
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Technological Change, Industry Structure and
G. (2003). An investigation of Network
the Environment, Tyndall Centre Working Paper
Splitting for Fault Level Reduction, Tyndall
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Brooks, N. and Adger W.N. (2003). Country level
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disasters and implications for adaptation to adaptation: a conceptual framework, Tyndall
climate change, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 26 Centre Working Paper 38
Tompkins, E.L. and Adger, W.N. (2003). Building
Tompkins, E.L. and Adger, W.N. (2003).
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Defining response capacity to enhance climate
management of natural resources, Tyndall
change policy, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 39
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Dessai, S., Adger, W.N., Hulme, M., Köhler, J.H., Klein, R.J.T., Lisa Schipper, E. and Dessai, S.
Turnpenny, J. and Warren, R. (2003). Defining (2003), Integrating mitigation and adaptation
and experiencing dangerous climate change, into climate and development policy: three
Tyndall Centre Working Paper 28 research questions, Tyndall Centre Working Paper
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Brown, K. and Corbera, E. (2003). A Multi-
Criteria Assessment Framework for Carbon- Watson, J. (2003), UK Electricity Scenarios for
Mitigation Projects: Putting “development” in 2050, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 41
the centre of decision-making, Tyndall Centre
Working Paper 29 Kim, J. A. (2003), Sustainable Development and
Hulme, M. (2003). Abrupt climate change: can the CDM: A South African Case Study, Tyndall
society cope?, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 30 Centre Working Paper 42

Turnpenny, J., Haxeltine A. and O’Riordan, T. Anderson, D. and Winne, S. (2003),


(2003). A scoping study of UK user needs for Innovation and Threshold Effects in
managing climate futures. Part 1 of the pilot- Technology Responses to Climate Change,
phase interactive integrated assessment Tyndall Centre Working Paper 43
process (Aurion Project), Tyndall Centre
Working Paper 31 Shackley, S., McLachlan, C. and Gough, C. (2004)
Xueguang Wu, Jenkins, N. and Strbac, G. (2003). The Public Perceptions of Carbon Capture and
Integrating Renewables and CHP into the UK Storage, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 44
Electricity System: Investigation of the impact
of network faults on the stability of large Purdy, R. and Macrory, R. (2004) Geological
offshore wind farms, Tyndall Centre Working carbon sequestration: critical legal issues,
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Pridmore, A., Bristow, A.L., May, A. D. and Tight, Watson, J., Tetteh, A., Dutton, G., Bristow, A.,
M.R. (2003). Climate Change, Impacts, Future Kelly, C., Page, M. and Pridmore, A., (2004) UK
Scenarios and the Role of Transport, Tyndall Hydrogen Futures to 2050, Tyndall Centre
Centre Working Paper 33 Working Paper 46

Dessai, S., Hulme, M (2003). Does climate policy Berkhout, F., Hertin, J. and Gann, D. M., (2004)
need probabilities?, Tyndall Centre Working Paper Learning to adapt: Organisational adaptation
34 to climate change impacts, Tyndall Centre
Working Paper 47
Tompkins, E. L. and Hurlston, L. (2003). Report to
the Cayman Islands’ Government. Adaptation Pan, H. (2004) The evolution of economic
lessons learned from responding to tropical structure under technological development,
cyclones by the Cayman Islands’ Government, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 48
1988 – 2002, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 35
Awerbuch, S. (2004) Restructuring our
Kröger, K. Fergusson, M. and Skinner, I. (2003). electricity networks to promote
Critical Issues in Decarbonising Transport: The decarbonisation, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 49
Role of Technologies, Tyndall Centre Working
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Ingham, A. and Ulph, A. (2003) Uncertainty, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 50
Irreversibility, Precaution and the Social Cost
of Carbon, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 37
Agnolucci, P., Barker, T. & Ekins, P. (2004)
Hysteresis and energy demand: the
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Agnolucci, P. (2004) Ex post evaluations of


CO2 –Based Taxes: A Survey Tyndall Centre
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Agnolucci, P. & Ekins, P. (2004) The


Announcement Effect and environmental
taxation Tyndall Centre Working Paper 53

Turnpenny, J., Carney, S., Haxeltine, A., &


O’Riordan, T. (2004) Developing regional
and local scenarios for climate change
mitigation and adaptation, Part 1: A
framing of the East of England Tyndall
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Mitchell, T.D. Carter, T.R., Jones, .P.D, Hulme,


M. and New, M. (2004) A comprehensive set
of high-resolution grids of monthly
climate for Europe and the globe: the
observed record (1901-2000) and 16
scenarios (2001-2100), Tyndall Centre
Working Paper 55

Vincent, K. (2004) Creating an index of


social vulnerability to climate change for
Africa, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 56

Shackley, S., Reiche, A. and Mander, S


(2004) The Public Perceptions of
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG): A
Pilot Study, Tyndall Centre Working Paper 57

Bray, D and Shackley, S. (2004) The Social


Simulation of The Public Perceptions of
Weather Events and their Effect upon the
Development of Belief in Anthropogenic
Climate Change, Tyndall Centre Working
Paper 58