Research Roundup for September, 2017

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

  • A slight majority of Americans say climate change made recent hurricanes more severe (Washington Post & ABC News, 2017).
  • Around half of Americans think climate change is making hurricanes worse. That includes four in five Democrats, but only one in six Republicans (CNN & SSRS, 2017).
  • Republican voters are more concerned about climate change in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, though concern among Democrats, inexplicably, has declined slightly (Morning Consult & Politico, 2017).
  • Concern about climate change is at an all-time high. Most Americans believe the environment is getting worse and that the environment should be a bigger priority. However, small changes in the wording of questions about climate change can produce significant variations in responses (EcoAmerica, 2017).
  • U.S. concern about climate change peaked in 2000 and again in 2016. At the state level, Americans have become more concerned as temperatures have risen, though public opinion is not responsive to rain, drought or wildfires (Bergquist & Warshaw, 2017).
  • U.S. latinos are more concerned about climate change and more supportive of policies to tackle climate change than non-latinos. This is particularly true of Spanish-speaking latinos (Leiserowitz, Cutler, & Rosenthal, 2017).
  • Only one in six Americans actively seek out and frequently consume science news. About half of Americans say they regularly get their science news from general news outlets, but less than a third of Americans trust these outlets to get the facts right on science stories (Pew Research, 2017).
  • More than nine in 10 Americans believe we have a moral responsibility to care for nature. Notably, religious Americans are less likely than non-religious Americans to believe the climate is changing or that pollution is contributing to extreme weather (EcoAmerica, 2017).
  • Americans support a tax on fossil fuels, particularly if the revenue is used to invest in clean energy and infrastructure or to compensate displaced coal workers (Kotchen, Turk, & Leiserowitz, 2017).
  • Three in four Americans support net metering, a policy that allows rooftop solar owners to sell surplus power back to the grid. That includes large majority of Americans who believe there is little evidence of climate change (Simon and Mills, 2017).
  • Eight in 10 Americans think that local communities should invest in clean energy and prepare for the impacts of climate change (EcoAmerica, 2017).
  • Four in five Californians want their state to be a global leader on climate action. Three in four support the state's push to generate 100 percent of its power from clean energy (Public Policy Institute of California, 2017).
  • Two in three Nebraskans support the state moving to 100 percent clean energy by 2030. Less than half support the Keystone XL pipeline (Public Policy Polling, 2017).
  • We tend to think of future generations as a separate group. Promoting a sense of solidarity with future generations can boost interest in green products (Meleady & Crisp, 2017).


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