Did concern about COVID-19 drain from a ‘finite pool of worry’ for climate change? Results from longitudinal panel data
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Climate Change and Health. 2022, 8, 100144. 10.1016/j.joclim.2022.100144
According to the ‘finite pool of worry’ hypothesis, one may expect that introducing a novel concern (e.g., about a pandemic) may reduce concern about an existing issue (e.g., about climate change). Drawing upon representative longitudinal panel data from Norway (N = 7998), this paper explores if and how worry about climate change changed from January 2020 (before COVID-19 was detected in Norway) to January 2021 (during one of the pandemic waves). The current analyses indicate a small but significant decrease in worry about climate change among the general public during this time interval, in particular among respondents born before 1980. However, the change in climate change worry did not correlate with worrying about personally becoming infected with COVID-19 or with family members being infected. Thus, the results do not indicate a mechanism of worrying about COVID-19 infections leading to a decrease in people's worry about climate change. The findings are discussed in relation to empirical evidence from other countries, where climate change risk perceptions have been monitored during the recent pandemic. Possible explanations for observed differences in worry about climate change, as well as the lack of correlation between the change in climate change worry and worry about COVID-19, are discussed.