Highlights from recent research on the science of climate change communication:
- Seventeen percent of Americans and 35 percent of American Catholics say the pope influenced their views on climate change (Maibach et al., 2015).
- In states suing to stop the Clean Power Plan, 61 percent of adults support setting limits on coal-fired power plants. (Howe, Mildenberger, Marlon, & Leiserowitz, 2015).
- Most Americans believe it is important to reach an agreement on climate change in Paris (Leiserowitz, Feinberg, Rosenthal, Maibach, & Roser-Renouf, 2015).
- Most Americans are worried about climate change, but just one in four is very worried or extremely worried (AP-NORC, 2015).
- Globally, more than half of people believe climate change is a very serious problem. Roughly four in five believe their country should limit carbon pollution as part of an international agreement. The biggest polluters are less concerned about the problem (Pew Research, 2015).
- When people benefit from risky behavior (e.g. burning fossil fuels), they are less likely to see that behavior as risky (Zheng et al., 2015).
- People who watch TV weather forecasts are more likely to believe extreme weather is becoming more frequent. They are also more likely to feel concerned about climate change. This is especially true for viewers, including conservative viewers, who trust TV weathercasters for information about climate change (Bloodhart, Maibach, Myers, & Zhao, 2015).
- People are influenced by their peers when it comes to climate change. Talking about climate change with your friends and family can help them feel more concerned about the problem (Leombruni, 2015).
- Advocates should
- show that climate change is already here.
- appeal to group norms (e.g. that most Americans are concerned about climate change).
- present climate change as a local, personal risk.
- emphasize the immediate benefits of climate action (e.g. reduced childhood asthma as a result of cleaner air).
- appeal to intrinsic incentives (e.g. building a safer world for our children and grandchildren) more than extrinsic incentives (e.g. saving money on renewable energy) (Van der Linden, Maibach, & Leiserowitz, 2015).
- People can adapt to climate change or be resilient during a crisis. Resilience suggests large, unmanageable risks. Adaptation indicates smaller risks. As such, people feel more concerned when they hear resilience, but they are less willing to take action because doing so feels pointless (Wong-Parodi, Fischhoff, & Strauss, 2015).
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