The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s mission is about educating, informing, warning, persuading, mobilizing and solving the global warming problem. The program feels that, climate change communication is shaped by our different experiences, mental and cultural models, and underlying values and worldviews. Their research seeks to identify and understand these different audiences as a first step to more effective education and communication on the issue.
Public opinion plays a very important role in how Americans responds to global warming. The Yale Program conducts bi-annual Climate Change in the American Mind national surveys to investigate, track and explain public understanding of climate change and level of support for climate policies in the U.S. The surveys are conducted in partnership with the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.
Their latest findings come from a survey of 1,226 American adults, aged 18 and older, and was conducted November 18 – December 1, 2016. The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
The survey found that the number of Americans “very worried” about global warming has reached a record high (19%) since first measured in 2008. A majority of Americans (61%) say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried about the issue – nearly equal to the highest level recorded in 2008 (62%).
Americans increasingly view global warming as a threat. Since Spring 2015, more Americans think it will harm people in developing countries (65%, +12 points), people in the U.S. (59%, +10 points), future generations (71%, +8 points), their own family (46%, +5 points), and themselves personally (41%, +5 points).
Other key findings included in the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication press release:
Seven in ten Americans (70%) think global warming is happening, which nearly matches the highest level (71%) recorded in 2008. By contrast, only about one in eight Americans (13%) think global warming is not Americans are also more certain it is happening – the proportion who are “extremely” or “very” sure global warming is happening (45%) is at its highest level since 2008.
Over half of Americans (55%) understand that global warming is mostly human caused, which is the highest level since 2008. By contrast, three in ten (30%) say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment – the lowest level recorded since 2008.
Six in ten Americans (61%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (10%), “very” (17%), or “somewhat” (34%) important to them personally. Four in ten (39%) say it is either “not too” (22%) or “not at all” (16%) important personally.
By a three-to-one margin, Americans say that schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming (76% agree vs. 24% who disagree).
“Despite the election of a president who has described global warming as a hoax, Americans are increasingly convinced global warming is happening and are more worried about it,” said lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD. of Yale University. “This indicates that on this issue, there is a growing gap between the views of the American public and the incoming Trump administration.”
Photo courtesy of NOAA