Research Roundup for May, 2018

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

  • A little more than half of U.S. voters disapprove of President Trump's environmental policies, while only around a third approve. Voters trust Democrats significantly more than Republicans to keep pollution in check. Around seven in 10 believe that solar and wind should be a higher priority than fossil fuels (Change Research, 2018).
  • The proportion of registered Republicans who believe that humans are causing climate change has risen 9 percentage points since the fall or 2017. The proportion who support limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants also has increased by 9 percentage points. At the same time, few Republicans will take climate change into account when deciding how to vote in the 2018 midterm elections (Leiserowitz et al., 2018).
  • The proportion of registered Republicans who say they are worried about climate change has dropped 10 percentage points since the fall of 2017 (Morning Consult, 2018).
  • While Democrats largely believe the goal of U.S. energy policy should be to develop renewable power and protect the environment, Republicans say the goal of U.S. energy policy should be to drive down prices and reduce dependence on foreign energy. Notably, young Republicans are more skeptical of fossil fuels and more supportive of clean energy than their older counterparts (Pew Research, 2018).
  • Before Barack Obama became president, white Americans and Americans of color were equally concerned about climate change. Over the course of Obama's presidency, white Americans became more dismissive of climate change than Americans of color, suggesting racial resentment has fueled climate denial (Benegal, 2018).
  • Low-income communities and communities of color tend to worry more than other communities about the health risks of extreme heat. Climate change will produce more frequent and intense heat waves in the years to come (Howe, Marlon, Wang, & Leiserowitz, 2018).
  • Six in 10 Americans trust medical professionals for information about climate change, but only two in 10 say they hear about climate change from health professionals (EcoAmerica, 2018).
  • People who feel their beliefs are superior tend to overestimate their knowledge of political issues. They also tend to consume news that reinforces their beliefs (Hall & Raimi, 2018). 


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