Canadian Forest Service Publications

Risk and climate change: perceptions of key policy actors in Canada. 2004. Stedman, R.C.; Davidson, D.J.; Wellstead, A.M. Risk Analysis 24(5): 1395-1406.

Year: 2004

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25110

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


This article examines factors that predict perceptions of risk associated with global climate change. The research focuses on the perceptions of those associated with climate change policy making in the prairie region of Canada. The data are from an online survey (n = 851) of those policy actors. The analysis integrates several dominant approaches to the study of risk perception: psychometric approaches that examine the effects of cognitive structure; demographic assessments that examine, for example, differences in perception based on gender or family status; and political approaches that suggest that one's position in the policy process may affect his or her perceived risk. Attitudes toward climate change are to a degree predicted by all of these factors, but only when indirect effects are observed. Sociodemographic characteristics have little direct effect on perceived risk, but do affect general beliefs that affect risk perceptions. Perceived risk is related more strongly to these general beliefs or world views than to more specific beliefs about the effects of climate change on weather patterns. Position within the policy process also contributes to our understanding of perceptions, with industry and governmental actors demonstrating similar attitudes, which contrast with environmental groups and university researchers.