Research Roundup for November, 2018

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

  • Some 40 percent of voters have seen, read or heard “some” or “a lot” about the recent UN report suggesting climate change will be more severe than previously thought (Politico & Morning Consult, 2018).

  • Nearly half of U.S. voters said they felt more concerned about climate change after being told about the report (Morning Consult, 2018).

  • When asked who they trust more for information about climate change, around 60 percent of Americans say the UN report, compared with just 10 percent who say President Trump. Republicans are only slightly more likely to trust the UN report than Trump. The large majority of Americans is concerned about the findings of the report (EcoAmerica, 2018).

  • Americans tend to doubt that utilities are trying to keep rates down, and few believe that utilities are doing a good job of investing in renewable energy. Four in five Americans say that cutting pollution from power plants is a worthy goal. Three in four say the same about using more renewable energy (Consumer Reports, 2018).

  • Following the 2017 March for Science, liberals’ views of scientists grew more positive, while conservatives’ views grew more negative. Attitudes toward scientific research remained unchanged (Motta, 2018).

  • Democratic voters are more concerned about climate change than any other issue except health care. Climate change is the least important issue to Republicans (NPR, PBS, & Marist, 2018).

  • Water pollution, air pollution, species loss and climate change rank among Americans' top fears (Chapman University, 2018).

  • A recent experiment found that, when tasked with raising money to fight climate change, people with less money contributed proportionally more than people with more money. The findings highlight the need to emphasize fairness when advocating on climate change (Vicens et al., 2018).

  • When people believe that their neighbors care about conserving energy, they themselves are more likely to conserve energy (Jachimowicz, Hauser, O’Brien, Sherman, & Galinsky, 2018).

  • Women are more likely than men to feel concerned about climate change. However, men are more likely than women to understand what scientists think about climate change (Ballew, Marlon, Leiserowitz, & Maibach, 2018).

  • Americans of every race and ethnicity underestimate how much people of color worry about climate change. While people of color—Latinos, in particular—are more concerned about climate change than other groups, Americans see environmentalism as the purview of college-educated whites. However, when shown images of a racially diverse environmental organization, people are more likely to associate environmentalism with people of color (Pearson, Schuldt, Romero-Canyas, Ballew, & Larson-Konar, 2018).

  • Congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle tend to underestimate public support for progressive policies, including limits on carbon pollution (Hertel-Fernandez, Mildenberger, & Stokes, 2018).


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