How aware are Americans of global warming?

Image : Yale

Image : Yale

A year ago, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, professor at London School of Economics, published a new book entitled “In 100 Years: Leading economists predict the future.” In the pages of this book, 10 leading economists deal with climate change and give their opinion on the future of the planet.

The most pessimistic of the bunch believe that climate change will be the coup de grace, while optimists believe that it’s just a warning to mankind. John Roemer of Yale University believes that global warming is a political problem and blames the U.S. and the Republican Party, accusing them of taking an “opportunistic and naive approach to the problem.”

But what do Americans think about climate change and the global warming? Even though the media increasingly cover climate change reports, do they manage to raise public awareness? The answer to these questions comes from a new interactive tool map created by researchers at Yale and Utah University. The research was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, and it provides estimates of U.S. public opinion on climate change, risk perceptions, and policy preferences at different states, local communities, and congressional districts.

Political scientists used a statistical model based on large national survey data (n>13,000) in order to analyze findings and produce estimates. Information for this new source of high-resolution data on public opinion has been gathered between 2008 and 2014 by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication.

According to the results, 63 percent of the Americans believe that global warming is happening and 48 percent believe that it is caused mostly by human activities. 41 percent of the public also believes that the majority of scientists know for a fact that climate change is happening.

However, only 52 percent of Americans are worried about global warming today, 51 percent believe that the impacts of climate change will harm people in the U.S., and 52 percent believe that people in developing countries will suffer in a few years as a result of global warming.

Opinions within states can vary greatly. Peter Howe of Utah State University, the lead author of the study, attributes these differences partly to the fact that different groups often think differently about the issue. Among Americans, Washingtonians are the leaders in their beliefs and concern about global warming and are also the most supportive of policies to mitigate climate change. The residents of central United States, northern Rockies, and the big coal states such as West Virginia and Wyoming seem to believe in and are concerned about global warming the least.

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About the author

Irini Chassioti is a teacher and chemist with a master’s degree in Environmental Chemistry and Technology. She was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Athens and is an active member of the local city improvement association. Her activities include the protection of the local ecosystem, writing scientific articles related to environment, ecology and sustainable development and the education of pupils on environmental issues.