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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