Farmers understand that the climate is changing but don’t favor collective action to address it, according to a series of interviews conducted by researchers.
Instead, farmers tackle the impact of climate change as a business challenge that they address through standard farming practices, like applying more fertilizer after heavy rains.
The report’s findings contradict a theory of change held by many social scientists that direct experience will change political opinions.
“Farmers are a very compelling group to study when it comes to climate change opinions,” said Dr. Matt Houser, a sociologist at the University of Indiana and co-author of the study. “In some ways, they’re an ideal archetype of the climate skeptic: white, male, older and conservative.”
Houser said that farmers are acutely tuned to their local environment, unlike many people who work indoors. “This makes farmers a living laboratory for social science research, where we can study the question of what will lead to social change,” Houser said.