Journal Article: Public Support For Carbon Dioxide Removal Strategies: The Role Of Tampering With Nature Perceptions
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) describes a suite of controversial approaches to mitigatingclimate change that involve removing existing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Throughan online survey experiment with US adults (N = 980), we examine three factors that mayshape public support for different types of CDR strategies: (1) perceptions that CDR tamperswith nature, (2) individual-level variation in the degree to which people are uncomfortablewith activities that tamper with nature, and (3) information about the risks and benefitsassociated with each CDR strategy. Using a moderated mediation analysis, we find thatsupport for different CDR strategies is, in part, a function of how much each strategy isperceived to tamper with nature. Support for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage(BECCS) and direct air capture (DAC) was lower than support for afforestation and refores-tation (AR), as BECCS and DAC were perceived to tamper with nature more. These effectswere particularly strong among individuals generally opposed to the idea of humans interferingwith natural processes. Moreover, we find evidence that describing the risks and benefits ofeach CDR strategy dampens support; for AR and BECCS, this effect was again mediatedthrough perceptions of tampering, while for DAC, the effect of describing these tradeoffsappeared to operate independently of perceived tampering. We conclude that policymakers andscience communicators need to be mindful of how CDR strategies are described to the public,as perceptions of tampering with nature may be an important driver of their acceptance.