Research Roundup for August, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Nearly two in three Americans oppose cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. A similar proportion opposes cutting funding for NOAA, clean-energy research, energy-efficiency programs and programs that limit pollution in low-income communities and communities of color (NRDC & American Viewpoint, 2017).
     
  • More than seven in 10 registered voters believe that businesses, political leaders and private citizens should do more to address climate change. Nearly four in five registered voters have never been asked to contact their elected leader about climate change (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Rosenthal, & Cutler, 2017).
 
 
  • While scholars have suggested that economic downturns stunt support for environmental policies, new analysis shows the 2008 recession had no impact on Americans' attitudes toward climate change. Instead, recent changes in public opinion have largely been driven by shifting cues from political elites (Mildenberger & Leiserowitz, 2017).
     
  • Science education makes people more polarized in their beliefs about climate change. More educated conservatives are more likely to deny climate science (Drummond & Fischhoff, 2017).
     
  • Analysis from Roll Call shows that Americans living in congressional districts that stand to lose the most from climate change—primarily in the South along the Gulf Coast—are less concerned about the carbon crisis than Americans living in districts more insulated from the problem (Kelly, 2017).
 
 
  • Americans tend to underestimate how many of their fellow citizens believe that humans are causing climate change. However, Republicans who worry about climate change tend to overestimate the number of their fellow Republicans who feel the same (Mildenberger & Tingley, 2017).
     
  • Analysis finds that one-fifth of Trump voters, a group named "American Preservationists,"
    align with progressives on climate change, "believing that global warming is a serious threat and human activity is primarily to blame" (Democracy Fund, 2017).
     
  • A majority of people in nearly every state supports measures that require that renewables supply a portion of their electricity. Messages that emphasize the fact that renewables create jobs and reduce pollution can increase support for such policies (Stokes & Warshaw, 2017).
     
  • People who learn about methods of removing carbon pollution from the atmosphere tend to be less likely to support policies to cut carbon pollution. This is especially true among conservatives (Campbell-Arvai, Hart, Raimi, & Wolske, 2017).
  • Both hope and fear increase support for climate policies among both liberals and conservatives. Anger, however, drives a wedge between these groups, increasing support among liberals while turning conservatives off (Feldman & Hart, 2017).
     
  • Americans are more likely to worry about pollution because it contaminates their water or air than because it contributes to climate change (SaveOnEnergy, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for July, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

 
 
  • Four in five U.S. mothers and grandmothers are worried about climate change (Moms Clean Air Force, 2017).
     
  • Emphasizing the health benefits of curbing air pollution can build support for climate policy among people who care about public health (Walker, Kurz, & Russel, 2017).
     
  • People trust messengers who share their values and beliefs. For this reason, many conservatives don't see Pope Francis as a credible source of information about climate change (Richler, 2017).
     
  • Comparing climate change to war can create a sense of urgency and persuade Americans to shrink their carbon footprints (Flusberg, Matlock, & Thibodeau, 2017).
     
  • Explaining the consequences of failing to address climate change can make people more concerned and more likely to take action. Explaining the upside of addressing climate change can make people more hopeful, but it may also make them feel less concerned and less likely to take action (Bilandzic, Kalch, & Soentgen, 2017).
     
  • A new study finds that the competing frames of climate change—as an issue of national security, human rights or environmental health—have roughly the same effect on views of climate change policy (Singh & Swanson, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for June, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • More than eight in 10 people in the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Germany see climate change as a "global catastrophic risk." Nearly nine in 10 say they would change their standard of living to prevent catastrophic climate change (Global Challenges Foundation, 2017).
     
  • Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Nearly half believe the move will cost U.S. jobs (Washington Post & ABC, 2017).
     
  • By a two to one margin, voters disapprove of President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement (Quinnipiac University, 2017).
     
  • Seven in 10 Americans agree the United States should take "aggressive action" to halt climate change. The same number believes the United States should lead global efforts to stem carbon pollution (Reuters & Ipsos, 2017).
     
  • Two in three Americans believe their state should tackle climate change in the absence of federal action (Mills, Rabe, & Borick, 2017).
     
  • Roughly half of Americans—mostly Republicans—believe it is possible to cut environmental regulations and still protect air and water quality. But, more than half of Americans believe regulations are needed to promote clean energy. Americans on both sides of the aisle understand how different sources of energy affect air quality (Pew Research, 2017). 
      

      

  • A new study of UK students finds that while it is socially acceptable to challenge a racist statement, it is less socially acceptable to challenge climate change denial (Steentjes, Kurz, Barreto, & Morton, 2017).
     
  • A new experiment suggests that environmentalists want to be seen going green (e.g. carrying reusable grocery bags), while people who don't identify as environmentalists don't want to be seen going green (e.g. would rather carry a conventional grocery bag) (Brick, Sherman, & Kim, 2017).
     
  • Consistent with prior research, a news study finds that Republicans respond more favorably to the term "climate change" than to the term "global warming" (Schuldt, Enns, & Cavaliere, 2017).
     
  • Trump voters trust NASA more than Fox News for information about climate change. Seven in 10 Trump voters want to maintain or increase funding for NASA Earth Observations (Hamilton, Brunacini, & Pfirman, 2017).
  • Americans largely see climate change as a distant threat, one that may affect people in far-off places some time in the future. Many fail to see how climate change is affecting them today (American Psychological Association, 2017).
     
  • Many TV meteorologists are reluctant to talk about climate change because see it as a controversial issue and they feel pressure to remain popular among viewers. Weathercasters are also limited by time constraints (Meldrum, Szymanski, Oches, & Davis, 2017).
     
  • Climate change shares many characteristics with disease. Like climate change, diseases are progressive, can be exacerbated by human behavior, and are often easier to prevent than to cure. Comparing climate change to a disease can help Americans—particularly conservatives—understand the risks (Raimi, Stern, & Maki, 2017).
     
  • People who are told their actions make no difference to the environment are less likely to conserve energy (Salomon, Preston, & Tannenbaum, 2017).
     
  • People who hold egalitarian and communitarian worldviews are more likely to worry about climate change and less likely to believe it is difficult to conserve energy (Lacroix & Gifford, 2017).
     
  • Americans who were already concerned about climate change were more likely to act on climate after learning about Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment (Myers, Roser‐Renouf, Maibach, & Leiserowitz, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for May, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Just 11 percent of registered voters give President Trump an A grade for his handling of climate change, while 32 percent give him an F (Morning Consult & Politico, 2017).
     
  • Six in 10 Americans oppose Trump's proposed EPA cuts. The same number believe the United States should stay in the Paris Agreement. Only one in five believe environmental regulations cost the United States jobs (Politico & Harvard, 2017).
     
  • Majorities of Americans in every state support the Paris Agreement (Marlon, Fine, & Leiserowitz, 2017).
 
 
  • Six in 10 Americans support a tax on carbon pollution. Two in three believe revenue from such a tax should be used to fund clean-energy research. A much smaller proportion believe the revenue should be returned to taxpayers or used to pay down the national debt (EcoAmerica, 2017).
 
  • People who think climate change won't affect them are less likely to support adaptation measures (e.g. sea walls, emergency planning, etc.). Policymakers should emphasize that climate change is hurting Americans right now and that adaptation measures will help protect people (Singh, Zwickle, Bruskotter, & Wilson, 2017).
     
  • When people believe their actions will have no impact on climate change, they are less likely to conserve energy (Salomon, Preston, & Tannenbaum, 2017).
     
  • New research suggests Pope Francis's encyclical on climate change did not make Americans feel more concerned about the issue. However, those who are aware of the encyclical, particularly liberals, are more likely to see the pope as a credible source for information about climate change (Landrum, Lull, Akin, Hasell, & Jamieson, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for April, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Just one in four Americans thinks there is too much environmental regulation. A majority believes the United States should stay in the Paris Agreement (YouGov, 2017).
     
  • A majority of Republicans in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee believe the federal government should take steps to limit carbon pollution. Roughly three in five likely voters in those states want to maintain or improve existing environmental protections (WPA, 2017).
     
  • Fewer than one in three Americans supports President Trump's efforts to roll back Obama-era climate protections (CNBC, 2017). 
     
  • Three in four Americans are concerned about climate change. Two in three worry that climate change will affect them or a family member personally (Quinnipiac University, 2017).
     
  • Americans who believe that humans are changing the climate were very likely to vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election (Rhodium Group, 2017).
  • Chinese adults are more likely than American adults to believe the climate is changing. They are also more likely to support an international climate treaty (Jamelske, Boulter, Jang, Miller, & Han, 2017).
     
  • Extreme protest tactics—such as blocking traffic, damaging property or using inflammatory rhetoric—make potential supporters less likely to identify with protestors (Feinberg, Willer, & Kovacheff, 2017).
     
  • Climate change threatens personal health and food security. When environmentalists explain this fact, Americans tend to feel more concerned about climate change but, paradoxically, they are less likely to advocate for climate policy. Making the issue personally relevant threatens to make people feel hopeless (Levine, & Kline, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for March, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • A record number of Americans feels concerned about global warming (Gallup, 2017).
 
 
  • Just nine percent of Americans think Trump should halt EPA action on climate change (EcoAmerica, 2017).
     
  • A plurality of Americans now opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. Democrats are far less supportive of the pipeline than they were three years ago (Pew Research Center, 2017)
 
 
 
 
  • During periods of unusually cold or hot weather, Democrats are more likely to believe climate change is caused by humans. Republicans are less likely to believe so (Bohr, 2017).
 
 
  • A new study shows that Republicans are more likely to believe information if it is attributed to Donald Trump, while Democrats are less likely to believe information if it is attributed to Donald Trump. The results suggest that partisans look to the source of information to determine whether that information is true or false (Swire, Berinsky, Lewandowsky, & Ecker, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for February, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Seven in ten voters are concerned about climate change. Six in ten think more needs to be done to address the issue (Quinnipiac University, 2017).
     
  • Americans broadly support clean energy and want more of it. Nearly three in four say that renewable energy should be a higher priority than oil drilling. Trump supporters are less likely to support clean energy than others (Hamilton, 2017).
     
  • Two in three Americans say the U.S. should prioritize the development of wind and solar over the development of oil, coal and gas. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support clean energy (Pew Research, 2017).
     
  • Six in ten Trump voters support taxing or regulating the pollution that causes global warming. A little less than half believe the climate is changing. A similar proportion believe the U.S. should participate in the Paris Agreement (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Cutler, & Rosenthal, 2017).
 
 
  • People grow more firm in their beliefs after viewing partisan media. Information about climate science makes Democrats more concerned about climate change, but it has no effect on Republicans (Carmichael, Brulle, & Huxster, 2017).
     
  • Americans regard climate science as less precise than other fields of study, even though it is plagued by many of the same uncertainties. When people regard a field of study as imprecise, they believe research from that field has little value.  (Broomell & Kane, 2017).
 
  • People are more likely to go green for selfish reasons than for altruistic reasons. They will take public transit, for example, not because they want to generate less pollution, but because they want to save money (Unsworth & McNeill, 2017).
     
  • A new study suggests that scientists can advocate for action on climate change and still be regarded as credible. In this experiment, scientists were only seen as less credible when advocating for a specific policy (Kotcher, Myers, Vraga, Neil, & Maibach, 2017).

 

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Research Roundup for January, 2017

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Climate advocates can preempt their opponents by “inoculating” the public against misinformation. Explain that scientists agree on the human causes of climate change and warn that politically motivated groups are trying to sew doubt about the scientific consensus. This can help counteract misinformation (Linden, Leiserowitz, Rosenthal, & Maibach, 2017).
     
  • Media coverage of climate change features fewer climate deniers than it did previously, but reporting still focuses on the conflict between climate deniers and climate advocates (Brüggemann & Engesser, 2017).
     
  • Eight in ten Californians believe climate change threatens the state’s economy and quality of life (Public Policy Institute of California, 2017). California is currently coping with a drought linked to climate change.
 
 
  • Half of voters don't trust Trump to take the "right" position on energy and environment. The large majority say that protecting nature is more important than increasing oil and gas extraction on public lands (Center for American Progress, 2017).
     
  • Latino voters in key swing states want aggressive action on climate change (Latino Decisions, 2016).
 
 

 

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Research Roundup for December, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Nine in 10 U.S. Latinos are concerned about climate change and believe the United States should meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement. Eight in 10 believe the U.S. should move to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 (Sierra Club, 2016).
     
  • U.S. Latinos respond to climate messages that emphasize health, culture and community. Talk about our responsibility to our children and our communities to reduce pollution and transition to clean energy (EcoAmerica, 2016). 
     
  • Seven in 10 Americansincluding majorities of Democrats and Republicansbelieve the United States should participate in the Paris Climate Agreement (The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2016).
 
 
  • Most Trump voters want to maintain existing climate policies. Most support requiring U.S. companies to reduce their carbon emissions (Glover Park Group, 2016).
     
  • Three in four Trump voters want to speed the deployment of clean energy in the United States (Public Opinion Strategies, 2016).
 
Republican voters associate these words with the term "clean energy."

Republican voters associate these words with the term "clean energy."

 
  • Majorities of Democrats and Republicans believe the government should curb carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, fund clean-energy research, offer tax rebates for electric cars and solar panels, and eliminate subsidies for coal, oil and natural gas. Roughly half of  registered voters believe policies to spur the growth of clean energy will create jobs (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Rosenthal, & Cutler, 2016).
 
 
  • Roughly six in 10 Americans say environmental regulations are worth the cost (Pew Research, 2016).
     
  • Just three in ten Americans believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change "very well" (Pew Research, 2016).
 
 
  • Scientific information about global warming has little impact on public opinion. Climate advocacy efforts, elite opinion and local weather conditions play a far larger role in shaping public concern about climate change (Carmichael & Brulle, 2016).
     
  • People who live in areas afflicted by record-breaking heat are more likely to recognize the climate is changing. The opposite is true for those who live in areas hit by record-breaking cold (Kaufman et al., 2016).
     
  • Conservatives respond to messages focused on the pastmessages that show how environmental action would return nature to its previously unblemished state (Baldwin & Lammers, 2016).



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Research Roundup for November, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:

  • Americans overestimate the prevalence of wind and solar in our energy system (which includes both power generation and transportation). Americans also trust the solar industry more than the coal and natural gas industries (Makovsky, 2016).
 
 
  • Evangelical fundamentalists are more likely than other religious adherents to dismiss the risks and human causes of climate change. Tea Party supporters are also more likely to dismiss climate change (Shao, 2016).
     
  • Liberals tend to value compassion and fairness. Conservatives tend to value purity, authority and in-group loyalty. People who value compassion, fairness and, to a lesser extent, purity are more willing to act on climate (Dickinson, McLeod, Bloomfield, & Allred, 2016).
     
  • People who feel connected to others are more likely to believe that their actionssuch as supporting an environmental groupwill serve the greater good (Cojuharenco, Cornelissen, & Karelaia, 2016).
     
  • People have negative associations with the term "fracking" but mixed views on "shale development" (Merryn et al., 2016).
     
  • Arguments against climate science are generally incoherent and contradictory. These are common attributes of conspiracy theories. Climate denial is only coherent when considered as a political tool for opposing policies aimed at curbing fossil fuel consumption (Lewandowsky, Cook, & Lloyd, 2016).



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Research Roundup for October, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • A new report offers an in-depth look at climate change and public opinion. Around seven in ten Democrats say that climate change is important to them. Just one in four Republicans say the same. Americans broadly support clean energy (Pew Research, 2016).
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change failed to convert conservative Catholics. Conservative Catholics familiar with the encyclical didn’t change their beliefs about climate change to accommodate the Pope’s view. Rather, they changed their view of the Pope to accommodate their views on climate change (Li, Hilgard, Scheufele, Winneg, & Jamieson, 2016).

 

 

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Research Roundup for September, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • Greenness is associated with femininity. Because of this, men are discouraged from going green. Communicators can persuade men to go green by using masculine branding (e.g. dark colors, bold fonts, masculine symbols) (Brough, Wilkie, Ma, Isaac, & Gal, 2016).
     
  • Climate change is more politically polarized than ever. Republicans in Congress have become staunchly anti-environment. Among the public, Democrats have become more concerned about climate change, while Republicans have become less concerned (Dunlap, McCright, & Yarosh, 2016).
 
 
 
 
  • People consider new information in light of what they already believe. Climate doubters are more receptive to good news about climate change (e.g. that warming is less severe than previously thought) and less receptive to bad news about climate change. (e.g. that warming is more severe than previously thought). Those who are worried about climate change are more receptive to bad news and less receptive to good news (Sunstein, Bobadilla-Suarez, Lazzaro, & Sharot, 2016).
     
  • In more individualistic nations, like the United States, concerns about the environment are a better predictor of behavior than prevailing social norms. In other words, Americans who worry about pollution are more likely to buy green cleaning products, regardless of whether their peers are doing the same. In more collectivistic nations, like Japan, social norms are a better predictor of behavior. Japanese are more likely to buy green cleaning products if their friends are doing the same, regardless of their level of concern (Eom, Kim, Sherman, & Ishii, 2016).
 
 
  • Some 65 percent of Americans believe the climate is changing and believe it's a problem the U.S. government should address. Among those who were asked if they would support a $1 fee on their monthly electric bill to help combat climate change, 57 percent said yes (EPIC/AP-NORC, 2016).
     
  • A new report suggests there is a spiral of silence around climate change. When people don't hear their friends talk about climate change, they are less likely to speak up. The result is that, while most Americans worry about climate change, few talk about it with their friends and family (Maibach, Leiserowitz, Rosenthal, Roser-Renouf, & Cutler, 2016).
     
  • Local papers are becoming an increasingly robust source of news about sea-level rise, more so than prestige papers (Akerlof, 2016).

 

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15 Steps to Effective Communication

A new guide from EcoAmerica highlights 15 steps for effective climate change communication. Read the entire report here. Below are the 15 steps.
 

  1. Start with people, stay with people. Acknowledge the concerns of your audience.
     
  2. Connect on common values. Show your audience that you speak the same language.
     
  3. Acknowledge ambivalence. Not everyone has the same level of concern.
     
  4. Make it real. Show the local impact of climate change.
     
  5. Emphasize solutions. Explain that powerful solutions already exist.
     
  6. Inspire and empower. Everyone has the ability to make a difference.
     
  7. Focus on personal benefit. Everyone wants clean air and cheap energy.
     
  8. End with your "ask." Implore your audience to take action.
     
  9. Sequence matters. Follow these steps in order.
     
  10. Describe. Don't label. Avoid jargon.
     
  11. Offer a powerful fact from a trusted source. A quote from the pope or a business leader.
     
  12. Ditch doom and gloom. People disengage when they hear bad news.
     
  13. Use stories. Tell your personal story climate story.
     
  14. Stay above the fray. Avoid demonizing opponents.
     
  15. Message discipline is critical. Repeat key points.

Research Roundup for August, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • Only 15 percent of Americans now doubt the planet is warming (University of Michigan, 2016).
     
  • In an experiment, photos of solar panels and stories of climate action made subjects feel more empowered. In contrast with previous research, images of pollution and severe weather did not make people feel less empowered or make climate change feel less relevant (Hart & Feldman, 2016).
     
  • People who are curious about science are more likely to consider information that challenges their political beliefs, including the existence of climate change (Kahan, Landrum, Carpenter, Helft, & Jamieson, 2016).
  • When asked what Americans could do to conserve energy, people tended to list more difficult actions (e.g. driving less). When asked what they could do to conserve energy, people tended to list easier actions (e.g. turning off the light). People regarded more difficult actions as being less personally applicable (Attari, Krantz, & Weber, 2016).
     
  • Three in five CA voters say air pollution is a problem. Two in three say the effects of global warming are have already begun (Public Policy Institute of California, 2016).
     
  • Three in four voters in states belonging to the Northeast cap-and-trade program support their state's participation in the program (Hart Research, 2016).
     
  • New Yorkers were polled after Hurricane Sandy. Democrats gauged the flood risk following a hurricane to much higher than Republicans did. Democrats were also more likely to invest in flood protection measures and more likely to expect to receive federal disaster relief after a major flood (Botzen, Michel-Kerjan, Kunreuther, de Moel, & Aerts, 2016).
     
  • Conservatives are more likely to support fracking the farther away they are from fracking operations (Clarke et al., 2016).
     
  • In an experiment, news stories of Americans tackling climate change made subjects feel more empowered. News stories of the government failing to tackle climate change made subjects feel less empowered. Feelings of empowerment, what social scientists call efficacy, influence political participation (Hart & Feldman, 2016).
  • Some 95 percent of Americans want carmakers to continue to improve fuel economy. Almost four in five want the government to continue to increase fuel efficiency standards (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2016).
     
  • Celebrities can have a huge impact on public awareness. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar speech about climate change triggered Twitter’s largest ever climate discussion (Leas et al., 2016).
     
  • Educated people are more likely to reject science when it conflicts with their political beliefs. When people understand the mechanism underlying a scientific finding (e.g. that carbon pollution causes climate change), they are more likely to accept that finding (Lewandowsky & Oberauer, 2016).
     
  • Tweets about climate tend to spike after severe weather events, suggesting personal experience with weather is driving interest in climate change (Sisco, Bosetti, & Weber, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for July, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • A whopping 68 percent of votersincluding 48 percent of Republicansbelieve the climate is changing and the government should work to cut greenhouse gases (Just Win Strategies & TargetPoint Consulting, 2016).
     
  • Three in four millennials say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to move from fossil fuels to clean energy. Nearly half would "never" vote for a candidate who wants to eliminate the EPA. Significantly, 44 percent see little difference between Clinton and Trump on clean energy (NextGen Climate & Project New America, 2016).
     
  • Americans cluster into six distinct groups according to their views on climate change. The most engaged group, the Alarmed, now encompasses 17 percent of Americans and 19 percent of registered voters. For the Alarmed, climate is a leading issue in the presidential election. The Concerned and the Cautious would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports action on climate change. Only the Dismissive would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes action on climate change (Roser-Renouf, Maibach, Leiserowitz, & Rosenthal, 2016). Learn more in Americans on Climate Change.
 
  • Three in five Republicans and four in five Democrats believe the government should increase and enforce fuel economy standards (Consumers Union, 2016).
     
  • Nearly four in five Hispanics say climate change is a somewhat serious or very serious problem, up almost 7 percent from last year (Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative, 2016).
     
  • Social norms can change behavior more effectively than rewards. Grad students in London cut their energy consumption after being told how their energy use compared to their neighbors. When offered a prize for cutting energy use, grad students limited consumption in the short-term, but the effect later faded (Alberts et al., 2016).
     
  • Hotter summers can make people more likely to accept the climate is changing (Shao, Garand, Keim, & Hamilton, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for June, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • In the past year, the proportion of Americans who think the climate is changing has increased seven percentage points to 70 percent, the highest level since November 2008. A majority of Americans (58 percent) say they are "somewhat" or "very" worried about the issue. Three in four Americans support teaching climate change in schools (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Feinberg, & Rosenthal, 2016).
 
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  • Teachers should instruct kids to think critically about climate change and to consider the plausibility of non-scientific explanations (Lombardi, Brandt, Bickel & Burg, 2016).
     
  • Climate advocates and social scientists should think in terms two-way interactions rather than the one-way transmission of communication about climate change (Ballantyne, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for May, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • Explaining the physical characteristics of climate change will not make people feel more concerned. Explaining the causes of climate change may make people feel more concerned (Shi, Visschers, Siegrist, & Arvai, 2016).
     
  • In contrast with previous research, a new study finds that pessimistic messages (e.g. we are not managing to reduce emissions) can make people feel more concerned without making them feel less empowered. Consistent with previous research, the study finds optimistic messages can make people feel less concerned (Hornsey & Fielding, 2016). 
     
  • Teenagers who accept that climate change is happening are more likely to care about the problem. Those who talk about the issue with friends and family are also more likely to feel worried (Stevensona, Petersona, Bondellb, 2016).
     
  • Most supporters of the last remaining presidential primary candidates believe in climate change. Supporters of Cruz are the exception (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Feinberg, & Rosenthal, 2016).
 
 
  • A large majority of voters in Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsinall states suing to stop the Clean Power Plansupport the EPA rule to limit carbon pollution from power plants (Bloomberg Philanthropies, 2016).
     
  • Most Americans know little or nothing about the Clean Power Plan. After hearing an explanation of the plan, seven in 10 Americans support the measure (University of Maryland Center of International and Security Studies, 2016).
     
  • The vast majority of Democrats, 77 percent, say climate change is a major threat to the US. Just 26 percent of Republicans say the same (Pew Research, 2016).
     
  • Talk about our collective responsibility to deal with climate change (rather than our individual responsibility). This is more likely to move people to action (Obradovich & Guenther, 2016).
     
  • The large majority of Americans understand the climate is changing. However, new research shows people may not talk about climate change publicly because they do not realize they are in the majority. This may be because people do not want to be seen as incompetent by those who do not share their views (Geiger & Swim, 2016).
     
  • Among people who care most about climate change, those who take action are more likely to believe their peers are also taking action. They are also more likely to believe their actions will make a difference (Doherty and Webler, 2016).
     
  • People are more receptive to information about climate change when they believe the economy is strong. This is because people often feel measures to stop climate change threaten the economy (Hennes, Ruisch, Feygina, Monteiro, & Jost, 2016).
  • People who understand the workings of complex systems are more likely to support climate policy (Lezak & Thibodeau, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for April, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • Three in four registered voters believe the climate is changing, including large majorities of Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans. Nearly half of conservative Republicans believe the climate is changing. However, climate still ranks low among concerns for all but liberal Democrats (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Feinberg, & Rosenthal, 2016).
     
  • Anger exacerbates partisan differences on divisive political issues. Sadness can focus attention on fixing a problem instead of pointing fingers (Huber, Van Boven, Park, & Pizzi, 2016).
     
  • CNN viewers saw more oil industry ads than coverage of climate change following recent news of record-breaking heat (Media Matters, 2016).
 
 
  • Arguments for government action on climate change can push Republicans to deny global warming, so polarized is the issue (Zhou, 2016).
     
  • Conservatives respond to pro-climate arguments that emphasize the need to obey authority, defend the purity of nature or demonstrate American patriotism (Wolsko, Ariceaga, & Seiden, 2016).
     
  • A new guide on using images offers five helpful tips (ResourceMedia, 2016):
    • Use local images.
    • Use images that are personally relatable.
    • Use images that tell a clear story.
    • Use text to enhance the image, not the other way around.
    • Use contrast to make your point (e.g. a before/after photo of pollution).
       
  • A new messaging guide identifies three components of an effective narrative structure (Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, 2016):
    • Identify the threat (e.g. drought).
    • Point to a villain (e.g. oil companies).
    • Describe the solution (e.g. clean solar power).
       
  • Just two in five Americans identify as environmentalists, compared to four in five in 1991 (Gallup, 2016).
     
  • Americans are more concerned about air pollution, drinking water pollution and species loss than climate change. Concern about environmental issues has declined since 2000 (Gallup, 2016).
     
  • A slim majority of Americans now oppose fracking, up from 40 percent last year (Gallup, 2016).
     
  • More than three in four Florida residents believe climate change is responsible for sea-level rise (Saint Leo University, 2016).
     
  • A majority of Montana residents think climate change is a serious concern for the historically conservative state (Muste, 2016).
     
  • There needs to be a stronger link between the science and practice of climate change communication (Moser, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for March, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • Victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, particularly fishers, blame BP and, to a lesser extent, the federal government for the disaster. In the years following the disaster, distrust of BP and the government faded (Cope, Slack, Blanchard, & Lee, 2016).
     
  • A majority of moderate and Catholic Republicans believe in climate change is happening and want action. Most evangelical and Tea Party Republicans do not. They believe the scientific consensus was contrived by media elites (Democracy Corps, 2016).
 
 
  • A recent webinar from Climate Access lays out four key practices for climate change communicators (Climate Access, 2016):
    • Address uncertainty in climate science.
    • Make climate change local.
    • Balance stories of threats with stories of solutions.
    • Lay out achievable goals that will produce immediate benefits.
       
  • In a social media experiment, posts about protecting human health or preserving the natural world were shared more than other posts relating to climate change (e.g. the potential for economic growth and technological development as the result of climate action) (Connor et al., 2016).
     
  • In contrast with previous research, a new study finds that focusing on the technological, economic or health benefits of tackling climate change is no more likely to fuel support for climate policy than pointing to the risks associated with climate change (Bernauer & McGrath, 2016).
     
  • On climate change, White Americans are more politically polarized Americans of Color. An American of Color is less likely to identify as an environmentalist, even if she feels concerned about climate change (Schuldt & Pearson, 2016).
     
  • Americans trust the general scientific research of federal agencies (e.g. DOE, NOAA, USDA, CDC, etc.) more than the climate change research of federal agencies. Conservatives are less trusting than liberals. When people are told to consider an agency's general scientific research, they are no more likely to trust its research on climate change (Myers et al., 2016).
     
  • Three in five Americans think the government and industry should work together to tackle energy independence (University of Texas, 2016).
     
  • A new guide from Climate Outreach offers guidance for how to communicate with center-right conservatives on clean energy (Climate Outreach, 2016). Insights include the following:
    • Speak in terms of values, not numbers.
    • Rely on communicators conservatives will trust.
    • Speak about energy efficiency in terms of 'avoiding waste.'
    • Speak about the potential for clean energy to generate profits for the community.
       
  • According to Gallup, 64 percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a "great deal" or "fair amount" about global warming, up from 55 percent at this time last year. This the greatest level of worry since 2008 (Gallup, 2016).
 
 
  • Local health department directors have become more polarized in their views of climate change. More believe and do not believe the climate is changing. Fewer are unsure (Roser-Renouf, Maibach, & Li, 2016).
     
  • A large majority of TV meteorologists believe humans are causing climate change. More than one in five say their opinion about climate change has changed in the past five years. Of those, roughly 80 percent say they now feel more convinced that climate change is happening (Maibach et al., 2016).
     
  • People are more likely to Google "climate change" or "global warming" following a tropical cyclone. This suggests there is a window following an extreme weather event during which advocates can build support for climate policy (Lang & Ryder, 2016).

 

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Research Roundup for February, 2016

Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
 

  • An analysis of 25 polls and 171 studies finds that political preference is a better predictor of one's concern about climate change than variables like age, gender, education or experience with extreme weather events. (Conservatives are more likely to dismiss the facts of climate change.) Moreover, concern about climate change does not necessarily translate to support for strong climate policy (e.g. a carbon tax) (Hornsey, Harris, Bain, & Fielding, 2016).
     
  • Only 30 percent of middle school science teachers and 45 percent of high school science teachers understand that climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. Unsurprisingly, 30 percent of teachers wrongly state that warming “is likely due to natural causes" (Plutzer et al., 2016).
     
  • The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has created a new tool mapping public opinion on climate change in Canada (Mildenberger et al., 2016).
     
  • A new guide from Climate Outreach outlines four narratives around climate change that appeal to communities of faith (Marshall et al., 2016).
    • Earth care is a precious gift.
    • Climate change is a moral challenge.
    • Climate change is disrupting the natural balance.
    • We live our faith through our actions.
    • take a personal pledge. 
       
  • As it is with climate change, there are many barriers to understanding threats to our oceans. Ocean acidification, for example, may feel distant, complex and unfamiliar. And, like climate change, the issue may be highly politicized (Schuldt, McComas, & Byrne, 2016). 

 

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