March 25 2015
| Research Reports
Today we are pleased to release a new report: Hurricane Perceptions of Coastal Connecticut Residents. The report describes public attitudes and behaviors towards past and future hurricanes and tropical storms, based on a representative survey of 1,130 households along the Connecticut coast.
We find that most Connecticut (CT) coastal residents are ill-prepared for the significant safety and economic threats posed by severe coastal storms. Highlights include:
Only 21% of coastal CT residents in Zone A say they would evacuate in the event of a Category 2 hurricane if they did NOT receive an official notice; about six in ten (58%) say they would evacuate if advised to by an official.
About one third (34%) of coastal CT residents believe it would be safer to stay at home during a Category 2 hurricane; slightly less (31%) believe it would be safer to evacuate, and a final third (35%) say it’s about 50/50.
Coastal CT residents generally underestimate storm impacts: about half (52%) say damage from past storms was more than they had expected, whereas 19% say past damage was less than they had expected.
Co-author Anthony Leiserowitz appeared in this T.V. newscast about the study with dramatic footage of the CT coastline during a storm surge.
March 16 2015
| Research Reports
We are pleased to announce the release of a new report, "Global Warming’s Six Americas, October 2014: Perceptions of the Health Consequences of Global Warming and Update on Key Beliefs."
This report is the seventh we have issued on the Six Americas – six segments within the American public that are characterized by distinct patterns of global warming beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences, and behaviors: the Alarmed (13%), Concerned (31%), Cautious (23%), Disengaged (7%), Doubtful (13%), and Dismissive (13%).
The report then focuses on how each of the Six Americas understands the human health consequences of global warming as identified in the U.S. National Climate Assessment. We find that even the segments most concerned about global warming have little understanding of the current or future impacts on human health. This limited awareness strongly indicates the need for more public education about how global warming will affect human health.
March 12 2015
| Climate Notes
This summer, Pope Francis, who leads 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, will issue a papal encyclical on climate change. An encyclical is a letter that sets church doctrine on critical issues and is one of the most important forms of communication within the church.
Early indications are that he will define climate change as a fundamentally moral and religious challenge for the world. Pope Francis will then separately address the General Assembly of the United Nations and a joint session of the U.S. Congress in September in the lead-up to this year’s critical UN climate negotiations in Paris.
What do American Catholics and other Christians currently believe about global warming, how worried are they, and do they support policy action?
To answer these questions, we conducted a special analysis on our recent nationally representative survey conducted in the fall of 2014. Overall, we find that Catholics – 24% of all American adults – are more convinced that global warming is happening, are more worried, and are more supportive of policy action than other Christians.
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.
March 03 2015
| Climate Notes
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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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.”