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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