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Pidgeon N.,Understanding Risk Research Group | Corner A.,Understanding Risk Research Group | Parkhill K.,Understanding Risk Research Group | Spence A.,University of Nottingham | And 3 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2012

Proposals for geoengineering the Earth's climate are prime examples of emerging or 'upstream' technologies, because many aspects of their effectiveness, cost and risks are yet to be researched, and in many cases are highly uncertain. This paper contributes to the emerging debate about the social acceptability of geoengineering technologies by presenting preliminary evidence on public responses to geoengineering from two of the very first UK studies of public perceptions and responses. The discussion draws upon two datasets: qualitative data (from an interview study conducted in 42 households in 2009), and quantitative data (from a subsequent nationwide survey (n =1822) of British public opinion). Unsurprisingly, baseline awareness of geoengineering was extremely low in both cases. The data from the survey indicate that, when briefly explained to people, carbon dioxide removal approaches were preferred to solar radiation management, while significant positive correlations were also found between concern about climate change and support for different geoengineering approaches. We discuss some of the wider considerations that are likely to shape public perceptions of geoengineering as it enters the media and public sphere, and conclude that, aside from technical considerations, public perceptions are likely to prove a key element influencing the debate over questions of the acceptability of geoengineering proposals. © 2012 The Royal Society.


PubMed | Understanding Risk Research Group
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Risk analysis : an official publication of the Society for Risk Analysis | Year: 2011

Nanotechnology involves the fabrication, manipulation, and control of materials at the atomic level and may also bring novel uncertainties and risks. Potential parallels with other controversial technologies mean there is a need to develop a comprehensive understanding of processes of public perception of nanotechnology uncertainties, risks, and benefits, alongside related communication issues. Study of perceptions, at so early a stage in the development trajectory of a technology, is probably unique in the risk perception and communication field. As such it also brings new methodological and conceptual challenges. These include: dealing with the inherent diversity of the nanotechnology field itself; the unfamiliar and intangible nature of the concept, with few analogies to anchor mental models or risk perceptions; and the ethical and value questions underlying many nanotechnology debates. Utilizing the lens of social amplification of risk, and drawing upon the various contributions to this special issue of Risk Analysis on Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions and Communication, nanotechnology may at present be an attenuated hazard. The generic idea of upstream public engagement for emerging technologies such as nanotechnology is also discussed, alongside its importance for future work with emerging technologies in the risk communication field.

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