Research Roundup for April, 2019

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

  • A new tool shows shifts in public opinion about climate change over the past 10 years. Studies find that concern about climate change has risen dramatically over the last decade. Research further shows that people who hear about climate change more often are more likely to worry about the problem and more likely to support to policies to deal with it (Ballew et al., 2019).

  • Around two in three Americans believe that humans are altering the climate. Close to half believe climate change will pose a serious threat in their lifetime. The number of "concerned believers," those who fear the imminent risks of climate change, is at an all-time high. They far outnumber the more ambivalent “mixed middle” and the dismissive “cool skeptics” (Gallup, 2018).

  • Two in three Americans want to prioritize environmental protection over economic growth, the highest proportion in almost 20 years. Only around a third of Americans favor economic growth. Historically, Americans have favored the environment during periods of high employment (Gallup, 2019).

  • Views on environmental protection are more polarized than ever. More than eight in 10 Democrats say the government is doing too little to protect the environment, while fewer than three in 10 Republicans say the same (Gallup, 2019).

  • Health care is the number one issue among Iowa Democrats in deciding how to vote in the upcoming presidential primary. Climate change is a distant second (Monmouth University, 2019).

  • Around two in three Floridians are concerned about climate change. The same proportion says that climate change should be taught in school as a scientific fact (Saint Leo University, 2019).

  • Six in 10 likely voters in South Carolina oppose offshore drilling. Seven in 10 say that investing in wind and solar energy will create jobs. Eight in 10 say the growth of renewable energy should be a priority for the state. Nine in 10 say we have a duty to protect God’s creation (Conservatives for Clean Energy, 2019).

  • Stories are better than scientific facts at motivating people to take action on climate change (Morris et al., 2019).

  • People who are better at understanding nature and human society as vast, dynamic, interconnected systems are more likely recognize that humans are changing the climate. This is particularly true among conservatives (Ballew, Goldberg, Rosenthal, Gustafson, & Leiserowitz, 2019).

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