Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Cynthia Pietras

Second Advisor

Susan Schneider


Many different factors can impact the way any information is received but it is especially important to see how scientific information is received because it is often backed up by a great deal of evidence, especially in the case of global climate change. Many of these factors have nothing to do with science and everything to do with social influences, political parties, and other demographic measures. Discussion of these relationships is important when discussing communication in a broad sense, but it can be even more important when bringing up things like global climate change, which has become a political topic since entering the public sphere.

Communication on topics of climate change has been well received within most of the scientific community but the existence of climate change remains a controversial topic in the public’s eyes. This difference between what experts have agreed upon and the lack of consensus among the general population is a point of great interest. Peoples’ responses to climate change does not fall on a binary but on a spectrum often referred to as Global Warmings Six Americas. Most of these groups can in one way or another be convinced to not only view climate change as important, but as something worth addressing, however, the majority of those who view climate change as something that needs to be addressed often do not take action to address it themselves.

Determining the barriers to action those concerned about climate change face can help in creating effective change to allow the concerned to act and have a more carbon friendly life. These barriers include structural, social and psychological barriers that impede peoples’ ability to choose climate friendly behaviors. Many variables influence people’s reactions to climate change, and there are many barriers to climate change action. The Six Americas “Doubtful” or “Dismissive” groups may impede action in the US on climate change, and thus understanding how people form their opinions and why they hold the ones they have is an important step to removing psychological barriers to action. Many more in the US, however, are concerned about climate change. Mobilizing the Six America’s group that identify as “Concerned” about climate change is a critical step towards addressing climate change and identifying barriers to their participation in climate change mitigation could have significant impacts on the environmental movement. For all groups, there are many external, structural barriers that will also need to be addressed, by those with the resources to address barriers on this scale, to increase climate change action at a large-scale to prevent further harm to the environment and human communities.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Thesis Presentation-S-Hemp.pdf (2972 kB)
Defense Presentation

Included in

Biology Commons