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Climate Change in the American Mind

National Studies

The Climate Change in the American Mind Project

The public plays a critical role in the American response to global warming through their energy use at home and on the road, consumer choices, social norms, and political support for climate policies and leaders.

This project: 1) investigates, explains, and tracks public understanding of the causes, consequences, and solutions to climate change, support for climate policies, and the current barriers to action, and 2) designs and tests new strategies to engage the public in climate science and solutions.

Highlights:

  • Identified "Six Americas" within the United States that each respond to climate change in a different way and require tailored climate change education and communication strategies.
  • Advanced our understanding of the psychological, cultural, and political drivers of American climate change attitudes, policy preferences, and behaviors.
  • Produced insights vital to the design of effective climate change education and communication campaigns conducted by local, state, and national governments, environmental organizations, academic institutions, businesses, faith groups, doctors and scientists.
  • Constructed a research platform to test the effectiveness of different climate change messages and messengers with different audiences.

The Climate Literacy Project

A national survey assessment of adult and 6-12 grade students’ understanding of the climate system and the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change. This project provided a baseline assessment for climate change educators across the United States and an evaluation tool for educators to assess and track improvements in climate literacy among students and public audiences. Several reports have been published:

 

State and Local Studies

Florida | a representative survey of public responses to climate change in the state of Florida | coming soon

Alaska | a representative survey of public responses to climate change in the state of Alaska | coming soon

New York City | the first-ever in-depth survey of public climate change risk perceptions, policy preferences, and behaviors in a major urban center | NYC results

Local Policy Support

Recent national surveys demonstrate that Americans are increasingly convinced that global warming is occurring and favor a wide range of national and international policies to slow it. We currently have almost no understanding, however, about public support for action on global warming by cities and local governments. Yet cities and local governments are critical players, as most of the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming come from urban areas. Building codes, zoning, transportation systems, and electricity production are all examples of critical choices made at the local level, with large consequences on greenhouse gas emissions. This survey was the first to measure public support for a variety of local climate change policies. Two national telephone surveys of Americans, ages 18 and over, were conducted from September 21-23 (n=1,004) and September 28-30, 2007 (n=1,005) in collaboration with GfK Roper. Results