A nationally representative survey finds that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” often mean different things to Americans—and activate different sets of beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, as well as different degrees of urgency about the need to respond.Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Emotion / Affect / Imagery Knowledge / Climate Literacy Policy Support Risk Perceptions Format Reports Tags Emotion Knowledge Risk Topics Behaviors & Actions Beliefs & Attitudes Politics & Policy Support
Attitudes & Beliefs
Global Warming's Six Americas have very different ideas about how the climate system works:
Attitudes & Beliefs Knowledge / Climate Literacy Risk Perceptions Six Americas Vulnerability & Resilience Format Climate Notes Projects Climate Change in the American Mind Tags Knowledge Risk Six Americas Vulnerability Topics Audiences Beliefs & Attitudes Climate Impacts
On Friday May 9, 2014, YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz was a guest on NPR's Science Friday, in the week of the release of the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment, to discuss Americans' responses to climate change. Other guests were Bill Nye (the Science Guy) and Sheril Kirshenbaum, Director of the Energy Poll at the University of Texas. Listen to the segment here.
Following up on her Sunday op-ed, CNN's Carol Costello sat down with YPCCC Director, Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz today to discuss why Americans continue to contend that climate change isn't happening.
Attitudes & Beliefs Knowledge / Climate Literacy Media Risk Perceptions Blog Post Projects Outreach Tags Knowledge Risk Topics Beliefs & Attitudes
- Compared to the record-setting extreme weather disaster years of 2011 and 2012, the year 2013 in the United States was relatively calm, with no land-falling hurricanes, fewer tornadoes, and drought relief in the Great Plains. In turn, fewer Americans say they experienced an extreme weather event last year. People in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, however, were more likely to report experiencing extreme cold or a snowstorm in 2013 than they did in 2012.
- Over half of Americans (56%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
- A large majority of Americans say their state and local government should make it a priority to protect public water supplies (78%), transportation/roads/bridges (73%), people’s health (72%), the electricity system (71%), agriculture (70%), and public sewer systems (69%) from extreme weather over the next 10 years.
Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Knowledge / Climate Literacy Risk Perceptions Vulnerability & Resilience Format Reports Projects Climate Change in the American Mind Tags Knowledge Risk Surveys Vulnerability Topics Behaviors & Actions Beliefs & Attitudes Climate Impacts
Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in November 2013
The most recent national Climate Change in the American Mind survey found that 1 in 4 Americans think that global warming is not happening, and half say they are "worried" about it.
Other highlights include:
- There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013). But about two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening, a number that has been consistent since spring 2013.
- The proportion of Americans who say they “don’t know” whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points – from 20% to 14% – since spring of 2013.
- About half of Americans (51%) say they are “somewhat” (38%) or “very worried” (15%) about global warming.
- Fewer than half of Americans (38%) believe they personally will be harmed a “moderate amount” or a “great deal” by global warming.
- By contrast, majorities believe that global warming will harm future generations of people (65%) and plant and animal species (65%).
- About four in 10 say they feel “helpless” (43%), “disgusted” (42%), or “sad” (40%) when thinking about global warming.
- By contrast, four in ten (42%), say they feel “hopeful” about the subject.
On Saturday, January 11th, 2013, YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz spent the morning discussing, among other things, the parallels between climate change and the smoking debate on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show. Watch the conversation below.
Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Health Knowledge / Climate Literacy Media Outreach Projects Politics / Elections Risk Communication Risk Perceptions Blog Post Projects Outreach Tags Health Knowledge Risk Topics Behaviors & Actions Beliefs & Attitudes Politics & Policy Support
The journal Global Environmental Change recently published an article we wrote examining the accuracy of perceptions about local climate conditions and whether they may be influenced by prior beliefs about the reality of global warming.
Attitudes & Beliefs Format Articles Topics Beliefs & Attitudes
We co-authored an original article using our research on public opinion about fracking, published in the journal Energy Policy.
- We conducted a survey of Americans' views on hydraulic fracturing in September 2012
- A majority of Americans have heard little or nothing about hydraulic fracturing.
- Many Americans do not know if they support/oppose it or are undecided.
- Those who have made a decision are evenly split between support and opposition.
- Predictors of support include education, media use and top of mind associations.
- Most people in Columbus, Ohio, (70%) believe global warming is happening, while only 18% believe it is not.
- About half (49%) believe that if global warming is happening, it is caused mostly by human activities.
- Of those who believe global warming is happening, two in three believe it is currently having a large or moderate influence on the severity of heat waves (66%) in Columbus, and half believe it is influencing droughts (51%) and flooding of rivers or lakes (50%).
- Further, of those in Columbus who believe climate change is happening, large majorities expect to see a myriad of negative effects from it over the next 50 years. About nine in ten anticipate more heat waves (91%), worse storms (88%), or increased allergies, asthma, infectious diseases, or other health problems (88%). At least eight in ten believe the area will experience declining numbers of fish and native wildlife (84%), increased droughts and water shortages (84%), or more power outages (81%).
- More than half of people in Columbus say that more should be done about global warming at all levels of government—from Congress (61%) and President Obama (57%), to state legislators (57%) and Governor Kasich (56%), to local government officials (57%). However, even larger numbers in Columbus believe that corporations and industry (68%) or citizens themselves (66%) should be doing more to address climate change.
- However, most people in Columbus see global warming as a relatively distant threat. While 70% believe global warming will harm future generations of people and plant and animal species, only 31% believe it will harm them personally.