When we reflect on controversial policy positions—“the death penalty doesn’t deter murder”; “climate change is a natural, cyclical phenomenon”; “gun control will reduce violent crime”; “the minimum wage will lead to unemployment and ultimately hurt the poor”—we don’t think of them as being merely right or wrong. We also instantly recognize them as the sort of things “people like them” assert or deny; they are beliefs that our close associates tend to have unified position on—the challenging of which could actually cost us their friendship.
We find that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Further, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming.
Many Americans are also willing to act politically:
• 26% are willing to join or are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming;
• 37% are willing to sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming;
• 13% are willing to personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse.
The study also finds that while Democrats are more convinced that human-caused global warming is happening and more supportive of climate and energy policies than Republicans, there are deep divisions within the Republican Party. In many respects, liberal/moderate Republicans – about a third of the Republican party – are relatively similar to moderate/conservative Democrats, while conservative Republicans often express views about global warming that are distinctly different than the rest of the American public.
For example, among registered voters:
• 88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans;
• 81% of Democrats and 51% of liberal/moderate Republicans are worried about global warming, compared to only 19% of conservative Republicans;
• 82% of Democrats and 65% of liberal/moderate Republicans support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, compared to only 31% of conservative Republicans.
The report includes an executive summary and many more interesting findings about how Democrats, Republicans and Independents think about global warming, what policies they support or oppose, and the different types of political activism they are willing to engage in.
More exposure to non-Fox News sources is associated with more endorsement of the views of many mainstream scientists on global warming, more trust in scientists, and less endorsement of the notion that ameliorating global warming will have undesirable economic impact.
Among Americans who had no exposure to non-Fox News television news, 62% believed that the Earth’s temperature has been rising, and 60% believed that the temperature increase is caused mostly by things people do or about equally by things people do and natural causes.
Among the most frequent viewers of non-Fox News, 81% believed that the Earth’s temperature has been rising, and 86% of them believed that the temperature increase is caused mostly by things people do or about equally by things people do and natural causes.
More frequent viewers of non-Fox News were less likely to believe that addressing global warming would have detrimental effects on the economy: 17% of respondents who had daily exposure to non-Fox News television news said addressing global warming would hurt the U.S. economy, and this number increased to 39% among people without any exposure to non-Fox News television news. Likewise, about 10% of Americans who were daily viewers of non-Fox News television news said addressing global warming would increase unemployment in the United States, and this number increased to 27% among people with no exposure to non-Fox News television news.
There is a growing divide in how conservatives and liberals in the USA understand the issue of global warming. Prior research suggests that the American public’s reliance on partisan media contributes to this gap. However, researchers have yet to identify intervening variables to explain the relationship between media use and public opinion about global warming. Several studies have shown that trust in scientists is an important heuristic many people use when reporting their opinions on science-related topics. Using
within-subject panel data from a nationally representative sample of Americans, this study finds that trust in scientists mediates the effect of news media use on perceptions of global warming. Results demonstrate that conservative media use decreases trust in scientists which, in turn, decreases certainty that global warming is happening. By contrast, use of non-conservative media increases trust in scientists, which, in turn, increases certainty that global warming is happening
The present study also goes beyond previous efforts by considering trust in scientists as a mediating variable between media use and perceptions of global warming. The results demonstrate that the negative effect of conservative media use on global warming belief certainty is due, at least in part, to the negative effect of conservative media use on trust in scientists. The positive effect of non-conservative media use on belief certainty is likewise explained by the positive effect of non-conservative media use on trust. Furthermore, the use of within-subject panel data and longitudinal analysis shows that media affects people’s level of trust in scientists.
Climate denial isn’t a worldwide delusion. It’s a distinctly Anglophone one.
Not only is the United States clearly the worst in its climate denial, but Great Britain and Australia are second and third worst, respectively. Canada, meanwhile, is the seventh worst.
“I do not find these results surprising,” says Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who has extensively studied the climate denial movement. “It’s the countries where neo-liberalism is most hegemonic and with strong neo-liberal regimes (both in power and lurking on the sidelines to retake power) that have bred the most active denial campaigns—US, UK, Australia and now Canada. And the messages employed by these campaigns filter via the media and political elites to the public, especially the ideologically receptive portions.” (Neoliberalism is an economic philosophy centered on the importance of free markets and broadly opposed to big government interventions.)
Indeed, the English language media in three of these four countries are linked together by a single individual: Rupert Murdoch. An apparent climate skeptic or lukewarmer, Murdoch is the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox.
Weather Forecasters Used To Be Among The Country’s Staunchest Climate Deniers. Why That’s Changing Fast.
Climate change opinion is the aggregate of public opinion held by the adult population. Cost constraints often restrict surveys to sample only one or two countries from each continent or focus on only one region. Because of differences among questions, wording, and methods—it is difficult to reliably compare results or to generalize them to opinions held world-wide.
In 2007–2008, the Gallup Poll surveyed individuals from 128 countries in the first comprehensive study of global opinions. The Gallup Organization aggregated opinion from the adult population fifteen years of age and older, either through the telephone or personal interviews, and in both rural and urban areas except in areas where the safety of interviewer was threatened and in scarcely populated islands. Personal interviews were stratified by population size or geography and cluster sampling was achieved through one or more stages. Although error bounds vary, they were all below ±6% with 95% confidence.
Weighting countries to a 2008 World Bank population estimate, sixty-one percent of individuals world-wide were aware of global warming, developed countries more aware than developing, with Africa the least aware. The median of people perceiving it as a threat was 47%. Latin America and developed countries in Asia led the belief that climate change was a result of human activities, while Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East, and countries from the Former Soviet Union led in the opposite. Awareness often translates to concern, although of those aware, individuals Europe and develop countries in Asia perceived global warming as a greater threat than others.
The data show that the Canadians feel more personally threatened by global warming than the citizens of the US. The US will be more heavily hurt than the Canadians, but the Canadians are more worried.
That’s where psychology is needed to explain the poll data. US citizens are generally strong believers in individualism, and don’t like collective solutions, the necessity for federal or, even worse, worldwide collaboration. So they reject the scientific data on climate change, because they don’t like the suggested remedies. Europeans are more prone to accept the need for collective solutions and international collaboration.