Research Roundup for August, 2017

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

  • Nearly two in three Americans oppose cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. A similar proportion opposes cutting funding for NOAA, clean-energy research, energy-efficiency programs and programs that limit pollution in low-income communities and communities of color (NRDC & American Viewpoint, 2017).
  • More than seven in 10 registered voters believe that businesses, political leaders and private citizens should do more to address climate change. Nearly four in five registered voters have never been asked to contact their elected leader about climate change (Leiserowitz, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, Rosenthal, & Cutler, 2017).
  • While scholars have suggested that economic downturns stunt support for environmental policies, new analysis shows the 2008 recession had no impact on Americans' attitudes toward climate change. Instead, recent changes in public opinion have largely been driven by shifting cues from political elites (Mildenberger & Leiserowitz, 2017).
  • Science education makes people more polarized in their beliefs about climate change. More educated conservatives are more likely to deny climate science (Drummond & Fischhoff, 2017).
  • Analysis from Roll Call shows that Americans living in congressional districts that stand to lose the most from climate change—primarily in the South along the Gulf Coast—are less concerned about the carbon crisis than Americans living in districts more insulated from the problem (Kelly, 2017).
  • Americans tend to underestimate how many of their fellow citizens believe that humans are causing climate change. However, Republicans who worry about climate change tend to overestimate the number of their fellow Republicans who feel the same (Mildenberger & Tingley, 2017).
  • Analysis finds that one-fifth of Trump voters, a group named "American Preservationists," align with progressives on climate change, "believing that global warming is a serious threat and human activity is primarily to blame" (Democracy Fund, 2017).
  • A majority of people in nearly every state supports measures that require that renewables supply a portion of their electricity. Messages that emphasize the fact that renewables create jobs and reduce pollution can increase support for such policies (Stokes & Warshaw, 2017).
  • People who learn about methods of removing carbon pollution from the atmosphere tend to be less likely to support policies to cut carbon pollution. This is especially true among conservatives (Campbell-Arvai, Hart, Raimi, & Wolske, 2017).
  • Both hope and fear increase support for climate policies among both liberals and conservatives. Anger, however, drives a wedge between these groups, increasing support among liberals while turning conservatives off (Feldman & Hart, 2017).
  • Americans are more likely to worry about pollution because it contaminates their water or air than because it contributes to climate change (SaveOnEnergy, 2017).


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