Research Roundup for May, 2019

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

  • Roughly six in 10 Americans do not think the government is handling climate change well. This includes around eight in 10 Democrats (AP-NORC, 2019).

  • Some 96 percent of Democratic voters say it’s important that the Democratic candidate for president support aggressive action on climate change. More Democrats agreed on the importance of tackling climate change than agreed on the importance of any other issue (CNN, 2019).

  • Republicans back many of the goals of the Green New Deal—clean energy research, 100 percent clean power, net-zero emissions—though just one in four say they support the plan on the whole (Politico & Morning Consult, 2019).

  • While Democrats think that a Green New Deal would help the economy and pay for itself, Republicans think it would hurt the economy and would likely not pay for itself (Leiserowitz et al., 2019).

  • Support for the Green New Deal has declined precipitously in the last six months. Most of the change has come from conservative Republicans, who are biggest viewers of Fox News. The cable news network has given the plan ample negative coverage (Gustafson et al., 2019).

  • Americans in the Northeast and West are more likely to worry about climate change than Americans in the Midwest and South (Gallup, 2019).

  • Roughly half of U.S. adults under the age of 30 agree that the government should be doing more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth. Only around one in six disagree. Among young Americans, President Trump has earned more approval for his handling of North Korea, gun violence and race relations than for his handling of climate change (Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2019).

  • More than four in five parents and teachers say that climate change should be taught in school. Among teachers, those who talk about climate change with students are more likely to say they understand the subject and more likely to say that their students have asked about it (NPR & Ipsos, 2019).

  • People who support policies to rein in climate change tend to believe that humans can solve that problem, but fear that they won’t. People who don’t support such policies are more likely to believe that humans can’t solve the problem, but hope that God or nature will (Marlon et al., 2019).

  • Studies that ask people if they accept climate science will elicit different responses depending on how people are able to answer the question. People are more likely to indicate that the accept climate science when they are given more possible answers—”strongly,” “moderately” or “slightly,” for example, as opposed to “yes” or “no." They are also more likely to say they accept climate science when they are given some explanation of climate change (Motta, Chapman, Stecula, Haglin, & Kahan, 2019).

  • Few Americans understand that air pollution can lead to health problems such as asthma, cancer and heart disease (Kotcher et al., 2019).

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