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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