Research Roundup for August, 2015

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

  • When confronted with conspiracy theories (e.g. that global warming is a hoax), people are less likely to believe scientists agree on climate change. They are also less likely to take action on climate change (e.g. by signing a petition) (van der Linden, 2015).
  • People who acknowledge complexity and uncertainty in climate science are less likely to feel confused, anxious or frustrated when faced with conflicting information about climate change (Muis et al., 2015).
  • Worldwide, one's level of education is the biggest predictor of his knowledge of climate change. In Latin America and Europe, people are more likely to see climate change as a threat if they believe humans are the cause. In many African and Asian countries, people are more likely to see climate change as a threat if they believe local weather patterns have altered (Lee, Markowitz, Howe, Ko, & Leiserowitz, 2015). See the public opinion maps below.
  • Among the most widely circulated American newspapers, The Wall Street Journal has been least likely to discuss the threat of climate change and most likely to suggest there is little to be done about global warming that would not hurt the economy (Feldman, Hart, & Milosevic, 2015).
  • People tend to regard sea level rise as a distant threat. Efforts to explain sea level rise can provoke confusion, fear, fatalism, skepticism and feelings of loss (Covi & Kain, 2015).

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