Who believes that the climate is changing? Researchers at Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication asked 13,000 people and they found some pretty interesting stuff. First, they found that there was a great deal of disagreement, identifying six types:
- The Alarmed (18%) – believe climate change is happening, have already changed their behavior, and are ready to get out there and try to save the world
- The Concerned (33%) – believe it’s happening, but think it’s far off or isn’t going to affect them personally
- The Cautious (19%) – aren’t sure if it’s happening or not and are also unsure whether it’s human caused
- The Disengaged (12%) – have heard the phrase “climate change,” but couldn’t tell you the first thing about it
- The Doubtful (11%) – are skeptical that it’s happening and, if it is, they don’t think it’s a problem and don’t think it’s human caused
- The Dismissive (7%) – do not believe in it, think it’s a hoax
As you might imagine, attitudes about climate change vary significantly by state and county. You can see all the data at their interactive map. Here are some of the findings I thought were interesting.
More Americans think that climate change is happening (left) than think it’s human caused (right); bluer = more skeptical, redder = more believing:
Even among people who say that they personally believe in climate change (left, same as above), there are many who think that there is no scientific consensus (right) suggesting that the campaign to misrepresent scientific opinion by covering “both sides” was successful:
People are somewhat worried about climate change (left), but very, very few think that it’s going to harm them personally (right):
Even though people are lukewarm on whether it’s happening, whether it’s human-caused, and whether it’s going to do any harm, there’s a lot of support for doing something about it. Support for regulating CO2 (left) and support for funding research on renewable energy (right):
Take a closer look yourself and explore more questions at the map or read more at the Scholars Strategy Network. And thanks to the people at Yale funding and doing this important work.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Bill R — August 19, 2015
The take-away for me from this study is how similar people around the country feel about the various issues. The media likes to talk about our differences--red and blue states, for example--but we're not as separated as they would have you believe.
Jamie Riehl — August 20, 2015
What about the pessimists: believe climate change is happening, have far too low an opinion of humans to think it's worth changing our behavior. Because (yes, sampling error) that's like most people I know.
Diogenes60025 — August 21, 2015
Humans’ use of fossil fuels, and the resulting carbon dioxide air emissions, has no material effect on climate. Human activities cause only about 3% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere. Most of the rest are the result of decomposing plant material. CO2 is in equilibrium. It is a weak greenhouse gas in theory, but its actual climate effects are nullified by stronger forces.
The theory of fossil fuels-caused climate change is a false premise for any regulation.
1. CO2 does not materially affect the Earth’s climate; and,
2. Fossil fuels-caused climate change is a false premise for regulation of CO2 emissions; and,
3. Nature already effectively captures and sequesters CO2 as mineral carbonate; and,
4. Climate cycles are natural, and caused by forces other than CO2; and,
5. Human activities generate about 3% of CO2 emissions. Most of the
rest are from rotting plants.
Anyone who took 10th grade chemistry could arrive at these conclusions using public information sources. Limestone and marble are the most familiar forms of mineral carbonate. CO2 is an essential component of the mineral carbonate (CaCO3). Carbonates are the ultimate repository of atmospheric CO2. Carbonates form in seawater and soils through biological and chemical processes. The formula is CO2 + CaO => CaCO3. Virtually all carbonates are formed from atmospheric CO2 that has been taken up by seawater or soils.
Joe — September 3, 2015
Actually, it was a survey of about 1300 people not 13,000
What do (13,000) Americans really think about climate change? « The Jury Room — September 30, 2015
[…] on Climate Change Communication’s survey on American beliefs about climate change over at the Sociological Images […]