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Public opinion

Indigenous beliefs

Global Environ. Polit. 17, 40–58 (2017)

Most research on acceptance of climate change is conducted in the United States, where political ideology is a powerful predictor of climate change belief. However, these results may not translate worldwide given the idiosyncratic nature of the US two-party system and other differences in domestic politics. For instance, politicians in Latin America routinely draw on indigenous culture, which emphasizes connection to weather and the earth, to legitimize climate policies.

Todd Eisenstadt from the American University and Karleen Jones West from the State University of New York at Geneseo conducted a national survey to examine factors driving climate change attitudes in Ecuador. Endorsement of indigenous belief systems, but not political ideology, predicted climate change attitudes. Adherence to Western scientific ideas reduced, but did not eliminate, this effect, suggesting that indigenous beliefs and Western science do not represent a simple dichotomy. Finally, proximity to oil extraction activities, but not reliance on rainwater or river water, influenced climate change belief, suggesting that the former may be a more appropriate measure of vulnerability in this context. These results highlight the importance of taking a global approach to studying public opinion on climate change.


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Richler, J. Indigenous beliefs. Nature Clim Change 7, 236 (2017).

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