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Scientific Consensus on Climate Change as a Gateway Belief

We are pleased to announce a newly published article: "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change as a Gateway Belief: Experimental Evidence" by Sander van der Linden, Anthony Leiserowitz, Geoffrey Feinberg and Edward Maibach in the journal PLoS ONE.

Our prior survey research has found that only one in ten Americans (9%) correctly understands that there is a scientific consensus about human-caused climate change – i.e., that nearly all climate scientists are convinced that human-caused climate change is happening. Our new article reports the results of an experiment that investigated how people respond when informed about the scientific consensus. 

Our results provide strong evidence for a gateway belief model. On average, being exposed to a “consensus-message” increased study participants’ perceptions of the scientific consensus by 12.8%, and up to as much as 20% in some conditions (compared to a control group). Moreover, this substantial change in the perceived level of scientific consensus caused a positive shift in participants’ belief that climate change is happening, human-caused and a worrisome threat. Changes in these beliefs, in turn, increased support for public action. Importantly, we found these effects for both Democrats and Republicans. 

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Will new voter demographics move public opinion on climate change?

We are pleased to share a piece we authored recently published in The Conversation about how the American electorate is changing in ways that bode well for increased support for tackling climate change.

The Rising American Electorate (RAE) is a voting block identified by the non-profit Voter Participation Center as young voters (18-30 year olds), Latinos, African-Americans, unmarried women and others. According to exit polls, this group accounted for about half of voters (48%) in the 2012 national elections and is projected to comprise a growing proportion of the electorate in the coming years.

The RAE is more engaged than other Americans on climate issues. According to YPCCC/George Mason research, a solid majority of the RAE is worried about global warming (63%), compared to just half of other Americans registered to vote (50%), and more of the RAE say global warming is important to them (62% versus 52%, respectively).

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Mapping the Shadow of Extreme Weather Experience

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new peer-reviewed article: Howe, P., Boudet, H. Maibach, E., and Leiserowitz, A. (2014) “Mapping the Shadow of Experience of Extreme Weather Events.” Climatic Change 127 (2): 381–89. DOI:10.1007/s10584-014-1253-6.

Climate change will likely increase the frequency and/or intensity of certain extreme weather events, and perceived experience with extreme weather may influence climate change beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

In this paper we investigated what factors lead people to report experiencing extreme weather events, including their proximity to the event, the size, and the duration of the event. We geographically located each respondent from our 2012 national survey, along with the locations of extreme events from the prior year, including droughts, tornados, and hurricanes. We then mapped the areas in which people reported that they had personally experienced these events, which we call the “shadow of experience.”

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Not All Republicans Think Alike About Global Warming

Not All Republicans Think Alike About Global Warming

The new Republican leaders in Congress have pledged to roll back the EPA’s proposed new regulations on coal-fired power plants – a key component of President Obama’s strategy to reduce global warming.

However, Republican voters are actually split in their views about climate change. A look at public opinion among Republicans over the past few years finds a more complex – and divided – Republican electorate.

For this study, we combined the results from six of our nationally-representative surveys over the past three years, which provided enough data for an in-depth analysis of the diversity of views about global warming within the Republican party.

We find that solid majorities of self-identified moderate and liberal Republicans – who comprise 30% of the party – think global warming is happening (62% and 68% respectively). By contrast, 38% of conservative Republicans think global warming is happening. At the extreme, Tea Party Republicans (17% of the party) are the most dismissive – only 29% think global warming is happening.

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As Congress Debates, Americans Split Over Keystone

As the new leaders of Congress try to pass legislation to approve the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, a recent poll by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that Americans are divided about the safety of the pipeline. Only about a quarter of Americans (24%) say they are extremely or very confident that it will be a safe way to transport oil, while 43% are moderately confident and 31% are not very or not at all confident it is safe. Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say they are “not very” or “not at all confident” that the pipeline would safely transport oil (43% vs. 19%).


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YPCCC Year In Review: 2014

Happy New Year from the YPCCC team!  2014 was a big year for climate change – from major scientific reports, to public marches, to breakthrough international agreements – and it was an incredible year for us. Continue reading for highlights from our work last year and where we’re taking these projects in 2015.

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