Research Roundup for July, 2019

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

  • Seven in 10 Democrats want Democratic presidential contenders to talk about about climate change in debates. Climate change trails only health care and women's issues among topics that Democrats want to hear about (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2019).

  • At the first Democratic presidential debates, moderators only asked 10 questions about climate change out of 170 questions total. They also gave just 10 of the 20 candidates the opportunity to talk about climate change (Media Matters for America, 2019).

  • Americans tend to think of climate change as an environmental issue or a scientific issue rather than a poverty issue or a national security issue. Americans tend to worry more about extreme heat more than about other climate risks, such as wildfires and hurricanes (Leiserowitz et al., 2019).

  • Americans tend to underestimate how many of their fellow Americans understand the climate is changing. On average, they think that only around 5 in 10 Americans recognize the climate is changing, when in actuality closer to 7 in 10 Americans understand this fact. Those who think that most Americans understand climate science are also more likely to worry about climate change and support policy to address the problem (Ballew et al., 2019).

  • When people talk about climate change with their family and friends, they often learn more about the problem, leading them to feel more worried about it (Goldberg, van der Linden, Maibach, & Leiserowitz, 2019).

  • Around six in 10 Americans think fossil fuel companies bear some responsibility for the damage inflicted by climate change. The same proportion believes that fossil fuel companies should pay some or all of the cost of climate change. Half of Americans support local officials suing fossil fuel companies for their contribution to climate change. Learn more using this online tool (Marlon et al., 2019).

  • A new report explains how to talk to the public about preparing for climate change. It makes several recommendations (Climate Outreach, 2019):

    • Explain how climate change is fueling storms, fires and floods today.

    • Tell personal stories about how climate change is affecting you and your community.

    • Stress that scientists agree that humans are changing the climate in dangerous ways.

    • Describe how people are guarding against climate change right now.

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