Perceptions and Attitudes of Climate Change and Energy Sustainability

Program or topic

Perceptions and Attitudes of Climate Change and Energy Sustainability

Department(s) or unit(s)

  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Human Dimensions Research

Contact information

Richard C. Stedman
Director, Human Dimensions Research Unit

Program goals

Public perceptions – of climate change, of energy sustainability, of local, regional, and global impacts- – play a key role in fostering or inhibiting climate related behaviors. I have been engaged in several projects in this realm, two of which are described here.

Brief description

The first project is a National Science Foundation funded project, in collaboration with the Paleontological Research Institute, examines climate related perceptions among residents of two rural New York State Regions, one with an agricultural base (Western New York), and the other (the Adirondacks) with a strong tourism and second home-based economy.

The second project in this area explores perceived risks and benefits of different forms of energy development—particularly unconventional “shale gas” and wind power– in the Northeast United States. Shale gas has alternatively been touted as a “green” or “bridge” energy source that can also foster unprecedented rural economic development, and an environmentally and socially problematic energy source that carries with it a host of unwelcome side effects. Concomitantly, wind energy development—with its own cast of proponents and detractors—is co-occurring in the same region, leading to potential cumulative impacts. Several specific studies in this area have been funded in part by Smith-Lever/Hatch, EPA-STAR, and various foundations. A portion of this work has been conducted jointly with Penn State University to introduce a comparative perspective. In this vein, a new project funded by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has broadened the comparative perspective to engage issues that span international borders.

For More Information:

Publications on perceptions of New York residents to climate change:

  • McComas, K., R.C., Stedman, and P.S. Hart. 2011. Community support for campus approaches to sustainable energy use: the role of “town-gown” relationships. Energy Policy 39:2310-2318.
  • Stedman, R.C., R.M. Ross., S.B. Allred, and S.J. Chicone. 2012. Upstate rural New York residents’ perceptions of climate change. Research & Policy Brief Series, Community and Rural Development Institute. 50.
  • Stedman, R.C., and K.A. McComas. 2010. Community Attitudes Towards a Climate Action Plan. Rural New York Minute, Community and Regional Development Institute, 37.

Publications on perceptions of wind and shale gas development

  • Brasier, K.J., D.K. McLaughlin, D. Rhubart, R.C. Stedman, M.R. Filteau, and J.B. Jacquet. Risk
    Perceptions of Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale. Manuscript forthcoming at Environmental Practice.
  • Brasier, K., M. Filteau, D. McLaughlin, J. Jacquet, R.C. Stedman, T. Kelsey, S. Goetz. 2011. Residents’ Perceptions of Community and Environmental Impacts from Marcellus Shale. Rural Social Studies 26(1): 32–61.
  • Clarke, C., D.T.N Evensen, J.B. Jacquet, and R.C. Stedman. 2012. Emerging Risk Communication challenges associated with shale gas development. European Journal of Risk Research. 3:424-430.
  • Evensen, D., C. Clarke, R.C. Stedman, and J.B. Jacquet. A New York (or Pennsylvania) state of mind: Social representations in newspaper coverage of gas development in the Marcellus Shale. Manuscript forthcoming at Journal of Environmental Science and Studies.
  • Jacquet, J., and R.C. Stedman. 2013. The risk of social-psychological disruption as an impact of energy development and environmental change Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. (ahead of print).
  • Jacquet, J., and R.C. Stedman. 2013. Perceived impacts from wind and natural gas development in Northern Pennsylvania. Rural Sociology (ahead of print).
  • Jacquet, J., and R.C. Stedman. 2011. Emergence of landowner coalitions in Marcellus Shale. Rural Social Studies. 26(1): 62–91.
    Jacquet, J., and R.C. Stedman. 2009. Emerging trends in the Marcellus Shale. Research & Policy Brief Series, Community and Rural Development Institute. 30.
  • Kinchy, A., S. Perry, D. Rhubart, R. Stedman, K. Brasier, and J. Jacquet. 2013. New Natural Gas Development and Rural Communities in the United States. Chapter forthcoming in Rural America in a Globalizing World: Problems and Prospects for the 2010s. (Rural Sociological Society).
  • Stedman, R.C., J.B. Jacquet, M.R. Filteau, F.K. Willits, K.J. Brasier, and D.K. McLaughlin. 2012.
    Marcellus Shale Gas Development and New Boomtown Research: Views of New York and Pennsylvania Residents. Environmental Practice. 14 (4): 382-393.
  • Stedman, R.C., F.K. Willits, K.J. Brasier, M.R. Filteau, D. McLaughlin, and J. Jacquet. 2011. Natural Gas Development: Views of New York and Pennsylvania Residents in the Marcellus Shale Region. Research & Policy Brief Series, Community and Regional Development Institute. 39.

Category: Fossil fuels, Policy, Research, Social Science, Wind

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