Evensen D, Varley A, Whitmarsh L, Devine-Wright P, Dickie J, Bartie P, Napier H, Mosca I, Foad C & Ryder S (2022) Effect of linguistic framing and information provision on attitudes towards induced seismicity and seismicity regulation. Scientific Reports, 12, Art. No.: 11239. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-15448-4
Shale gas is an expanding energy source worldwide, yet ‘fracking’ remains controversial. Amongst public concerns is induced seismicity (tremors). The UK had the most stringent induced seismicity regulations in the world, prior to instating a moratorium on shale gas development. The Government cited induced seismicity as the key rationale for its November 2019 English moratorium. Yet, little is known about how the public perceives induced seismicity, whether they support regulatory change, or how framing and information provision affect perceptions. Across three waves of a longitudinal experimental UK survey (N = 2777; 1858; 1439), we tested whether framing of induced seismicity influences support for changing regulations. The surveys compared (1) quantitative versus qualitative framings, (2) information provision about regulatory limits in other countries and (3) seismicity from other industries, and (4) framing a seismic event as an ‘earthquake’ or something else. We find low support for changing current policy, and that framing and information provision made little difference to this. The one strong influence on perceptions of seismic events came from the type of activity causing the event; shale gas extraction clearly led to the most negative reactions. We discuss implications for future UK policy on shale gas and geothermal energy in an evolving energy landscape.
Energy policy; Political economy of energy; Psychology and behaviour
Scientific Reports: Volume 12