Swedish Farmers Have Doubts About Climatologists

  • Date: 01/07/14
  • Georg Mathisen, Science Nordic

Many farmers – at least Swedish ones – have experienced mild winters and shifting weather before and are hesitant about trusting climate scientists.

Surprised

The researcher who discovered the degree of scepticism among farmers was surprised by her findings.  Therese Asplund, who recently presented her PhD thesis at Linköping University, was initially looking into how agricultural magazines covered climate change.

Asplund found after studying ten years of issues of the two agricultural sector periodicals ATL and Land Lantbruk that they present climate change as scientifically confirmed, a real problem.

But her research took an unexpected direction when she started interviewing farmers in focus groups about climate issues.

Asplund had prepared a long list of questions about how the farmers live with the threat of climate change and what they plan to do to cope with the subsequent climate challenges. The conversations took a different course:

“They explained that they didn’t quite believe in climate changes,” she says. “Or at least that these are not triggered by human activities.”

Used to changes

The climate of course has previously gone through natural spells, and the farmers tend to think in terms of their experiences in recent decades.

“Many have a lot of experience, for instance they recall the mild winters of the 1960s,” explains Asplund.

The farmers also distrust climatologists partly on the grounds of what they perceive of as too much concurrence.

“They think information about climate change is too uniform. Credibility would increase if more contrary perspectives were presented,” she says.

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