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outdoor recreation, climate change concern, public opinion

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There has been extensive research on the association between environmental attitudes and outdoor recreation (or nature-based leisure activities) since the 1970s. There is now considerable evidence to support the claim that spending time in nature leads to greater connectedness to nature and thereby greater pro-environmental attitudes and behavior. However, there is an absence of research focused specifically on the association between outdoor recreation and concern for climate change, which is arguably the most pressing environmental problem facing the world today. We build on previous research by using the 2021 General Social Survey and structural equation modeling to analyze the association between frequency of engaging in outdoor recreation and concern for climate change among adults in the United States, with special attention to the role of enjoying being in nature. Controlling for other factors, we find that frequency of outdoor recreation has a positive, significant effect on climate change concern, but only indirectly via enjoyment of nature. Individuals who more frequently engage in outdoor recreation activities tend to report a greater sense of enjoyment of being outside in nature, and this enjoyment of nature is associated with a higher level of concern for climate change.

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Sustainability, v. 14, issue 5, art. 3520