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The New Language of Climate Change

Some meteorologists and scientists are working to help conservatives acknowledge that the climate is changing by removing any mention of "climate change" or human impact from their story, and instead focusing on putting extreme weather events in historical context (e.g. 500 year floods happening every few years now, etc.). This article draws from the American Meteorological Society's recent annual meeting, and Climate Central's Climate Matters program.  

Bryan Bender, Politico | 01/27/19

POLL: Nearly Half Of Americans Are More Convinced Than They Were Five Years Ago That Climate Change Is Happening, With Extreme Weather Driving Their Views

Forty-eight percent of Americans find the science on climate change to be more convincing than it was 5 years ago, with three-quarters of them crediting recent extreme weather events for changing their views. And 7 in 10 Americans now say climate change is happening, including 86% of Democrats, 52% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents. 

Meanwhile, 44% support a carbon tax, while 29% of those surveyed oppose one and 25% say they neither support nor oppose it. When told some ways the funds might be used, support is higher: two-thirds support a carbon tax if the funds are used for environmental restoration. If respondents are told that the revenues will be rebated to households, 49% support it.

When asked about the Trump administration's proposed freeze on fuel efficiency standards, half of those surveyed were told the proposed freeze could mean that greenhouse gas emissions would not be reduced. In those cases, only 21% support the freeze. The other half of those surveyed were told the proposed freeze could lead to reduced prices for cars. In response, 49% support the freeze. 

This survey was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with adults age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Associated Press & NORC Center for Public Affairs Research | 01/22/19

To Support a Stronger Climate Movement, Focus Research on Building Collective Power

Despite growing activism, the climate movement still needs to do more to translate public action into the power needed to effect meaningful change. Drawing insights from a conference that brought social scientists together with climate advocates in the U.S., the co-authors argue that researchers can make an invaluable contribution toward addressing the climate crisis by helping to identify choice points that make it more likely movement leaders will build sufficient, lasting political power. This means research should move beyond traditional public opinion, communications, messaging, and activism studies toward a greater focus on the strategic leadership and collective contexts that translate opinion and action into political power.  In particular, new research focused on leadership capacities and organizational conditions could offer movement leaders guidance on how to move beyond motivating individual actions toward building collective constituencies that have the flexibility and commitment needed to act on the interests of public officials over time. And increased research into strategy (versus trends and tactics) would support movement leaders’ decision making.

Hahrie Han, University of California, Santa Barbara and Carina Barnett-Loro, Climate Advocacy Lab. Frontiers. | 12/19/18

Poll: More Americans view climate change as 'imminent' threat

35 percent of U.S. adults now see global warming as an "imminent" threat, up from 32 percent in 2017 and 24 percent in 2015, according to this national Reuters/Ipsos poll taken Nov. 29-Dec 10. More than half (57 percent) also think global warming is caused by "human activity" or "mostly human activity", according to the survey, up from the 47 percent who attributed it to human activity in a similar poll in 2012. And 69 percent said in the poll that the U.S. should work with other nations to curb climate change, including 64 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats. That marks a decline from 72 percent in a similar poll in 2017.

Maria Caspani, Thompson Reuters Foundation News | 12/13/18

Guide to Communicating Carbon Pricing

Effectively communicating around carbon pricing can be helped by having a solid underlying policy, lifting up local applications of revenues, emphasizing the non-climate benefits of the policy, focusing on underlying values, and factoring in a population's trust--or lack thereof--in government. Those are among the many tips spelled out in this guide prepared for policymakers and their staff, and released at the COP24 United Nations climate summit. 

Partnership for Market Readiness & the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, w/ consulting support from Climate Outreach and others | 12/10/18

The psychology of climate change: Why people deny the evidence

Earth's climate is rapidly changing as a result of human activity. So how is it that some people are still reluctant to acknowledge it? According to some psychologists, there are a number of reasons, including the prevalence of misinformation. One of the reasons people might be sharing that information — which they may not recognize as false — is that it represents their worldview, a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Another important consideration is that when people have strong motivations, they're very selective in the sort of evidence they look for. They can be motivated by fear if their livelihood is dependent on the oil industry for example, so they fear acknowledging climate change will threaten their jobs. Others might resent government taking money out of their pockets in the form of public spending on carbon mitigation efforts. So while there is a lot of climate change information out there, communicating it in an effective way is key.

Nicole Mortillaro, CBC News | 12/02/18

Research Impact Through Matchmaking (RITM): How and Why to Connect Researchers and Practitioners

Researchers and practitioners increasingly want to learn from each other and work together to solve complex problems. Yet because they often belong to very different social networks, matchmaking is valuable. This working paper by Adam Seth Levine of research4impact presents results from a novel, evidence-based approach to matchmaking called Research Impact Through Matchmaking (RITM). It leverages research on organizational diversity to initiate working relationships between strangers who are diverse in several ways. Levine describes the method and presents data from 37 initial matches between practitioners working at nonprofits and social scientists. Overall, these results are of interest to researchers and practitioners that (a) may wish to initiate connections across diverse spaces themselves and/or (b) are currently engaged in matchmaking and may find RITM valuable.

Adam Seth Levine, research4impact. | 11/30/18

Three briefs on Researcher-Advocate collaborations

research4impact, an organization that facilitates research collaboration between advocates and academics, has released a series of three briefs on common questions and misconceptions researchers may have when working with advocates. Using data from 37 collaborations, these briefs address

Gender Differences in Public Understanding of Climate Change

Women in the U.S. are less likely than men to know certain scientific facts about global warming and tend to be less certain of what they know, even though they have a sharper understanding of the risks and threats from global warming. That is the core conclusion of this analysis of several polls over many years, examining gender differences in opinions and understanding of climate change. The authors suggest that based on their findings, compared with men, women may be more open to fact-based public education initiatives because they might be less threatened by the facts (as long as the information is consistent with their risk assessments). See coverage in U.S. News & World Report here.

M. Ballew, J. Marlon, A. Leiserowitz (Yale Program on Climate Change Communication), and E. Maibach (George Mason University) | 11/20/18

Poll: climate, environmental threats rank among Americans' top fears

Since Pres. Trump’s election, Americans are increasing fearful of pollution, global warming and other environmental disasters, according to the latest version of this ongoing national survey, fielded in June 2018. Not a single environmental concern made the top 10 list in 2016. In 2017, four of the top ten fears were related to the environment. By 2018, five of the top ten fears were environmental in nature: #s 2 (pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes), 3 (pollution of drinking water), 7 (air pollution), 8 (extinction of plant and animal species) and 9 (global warming and climate change). 'Corrupt government officials' ranked as the top fear for the fourth year in a row.

Chapman University, SSRS | 10/16/18

Poll: Global consumers seek companies that care about environmental issues

68% of North Americans are "extremely” or “very concerned” about water pollution and 61% are "extremely” or “very concerned” about air pollution. Subsequently, 69% of North Americans consider it "extremely" or "very important" that companies implement programs to improve the environment. Across the global, concern is highest among Millennials (21-34), with 85% considering it “extremely” or “very” important that companies implement programs to improve the environment. 

Conference Board for the Nielsen Company | 10/16/18

Poll: Regionalism affecting climate opinions

As wildfires rage in several western US states, 64% of Americans in western states say that climate change is real and is the result of human activity--a 7 percentage point increase in just the last two weeks. 55% of Americans in western states say the severity of recent extreme weather events has been fueled by climate change, compared to 48% nationally. 48% of Americans in western states say climate change is a "very serious" problem, the highest percentage of any region.  

Economist/ YouGov | 08/20/18

In defense of using 'the new normal' to describe climate change

Many media reports have described recent climate impacts as "the new normal." And while climate scientists have pushed back, arguing that the future will grow gradually worse, and that suggesting current conditions will continue at current levels could lead to complacency, this article argues otherwise. Referencing the common use of "the new normal" to describe changed conditions immediately after 9/11 and the start of the Great Recession, the author argues that use of the term in response to troubling times can actually inspire action to address those troubling times, and part of that is a fear that things can in fact get even worse. 

Kate Yoder, Grist | 08/06/18

Poll: Nearly half of voters oppose Trump's clean cars rollback

49% of voters nationwide "somewhat" or "strongly" oppose the Trump administration's proposed weakening of federal vehicle emissions standards, while 32% somewhat or strongly support it--though 40% of voters had heard "not much" or "nothing at all" about the proposal, according to this poll on a variety of issues conducted August 2-6. Voters said the most negative impacts of the proposal would fall on the environment, with 46% saying it would strongly or somewhat hurt the environment, while opinions were more evenly split on the proposal's impacts on the economy and consumers. (Lab note: the poll's inclusion of "Trump" and "Obama-era" to describe the car standards, and a focus on divisive issues (guns, racism, Russia) in the rest of the poll, could have made responses more partisan than would otherwise be the case). See pages 5, 19 and 20 in the attached pdf for cars-related questions, and see media coverage in The Hill

Morning Consult - Politico | 08/06/18

Mothers Of Invention

​Join former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins in this uplifting new podcast, celebrating amazing women doing remarkable things in pursuit of climate justice.  Each episode features the Mothers of Invention driving powerful solutions to climate change – from the grassroots to the court room, the front lines to the board room – all over the world. 

Released every other Monday to start your week, over six entertaining and story-led episodes Mary and Maeve will chew over the big issues of climate change. They give the inside track from the corridors of power and introduce amazing women all over the world driving climate solutions – our Mothers of Invention. They are politicians in east Africa, they are scientists in India, they are Indigenous community leaders in North America, they are lawyers, they are activists and they are solving climate problems. Every. Single. Day.

Doc Society | 07/30/18

Poll: As Americans Experienced the Warmest May on Record Their Acceptance of Global Warming Reaches a New High

More Americans (73%) think that there is solid evidence of global warming than at any time since 2008. A record 60% of Americans now think global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially responsible for the rising temperatures. While half of Republicans think there is solid evidence of global warming, the divide between the 90% of Democrats that hold this view and the 50% of Republicans that maintain this position is as large as any time since 2008. The divide between Democrats and Republicans on the existence of anthropogenic induced global warming is also at record levels with 78% of Democrats now holding the view that humans are at least partially responsible for warming on the planet compared to only 35% of Republicans.

Christopher Borick, Muhlenberg College and Barry Rabe, Natalie Fitzpatrick, and Sarah Mills, University of Michigan. Issues in Energy and Environmental Policy | 07/11/18

Poll: Democrats, GOP Have Little Faith Governments Will Combat Climate Change

Despite differing over the impacts of climate change, Democrats and Republicans are in agreement on one thing: They don’t place much trust in governments to tackle the issue. 63% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans say they have “little” or “no trust” in governments to combat climate change.

Adults register less doubt about businesses, with 52% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans holding little or no trust in a corporate response to climate change. The political divide between respondents is more apparent over whether climate change will have any impact on businesses, with 40% of Republicans saying climate change will not impact businesses’ ability to grow, compared to 11% of Democrats who said the same.

Overall, a plurality of adults (22%) say that governments are most responsible for combating climate change, closely followed by individuals (20%). 25% said they didn’t know or had no opinion, and 10% selected businesses as most responsible to address climate change. Opinions over who holds the primary responsibility to address climate change vary by party affiliation, with 24% of Republicans and 23% of independents saying individual people are most responsible to address climate change, compared to 14% of Democrats. 

Only adults (44%) think that tackling global warming, rising seas and more extreme weather is ultimately a net positive for the economy, according to the poll. A majority of Democrats (55%) think it benefits the economy, compared to 44 percent of independents and 31 percent of Republicans.

Morning Consult for Bloomberg Global Business Forum | 07/11/18

Entering Climate Change Communications through the Side Door

From a communications perspective, upping the “urgency factor” on climate change may not be the best approach, as a good deal of research into the psychology of persuasion shows that reemphasizing an entrenched position can actually be counterproductive.  Instead, look for “side doors,” frames on a problem that are not necessarily Left or Right, to engage people in different perspectives, “rather than trying to knock down the front door with a barrage of facts.” This helps to reengage the public, an important first step toward making progress on a polarized issue. Here are a few ways to find the “side doors” on climate: (1) Embed non-threatening, personally meaningful conversations about climate change into cultural and community institutions with roader civic resonance (e.g., hold climate change conversations in family-oriented spaces like the zoo or aquarium); (2) Use trusted messengers, not just the “usual suspects” to depolarize an issue; (3) Increase issue-salience by focusing on day-to-day and longer-term decisions people already have to make (e.g., responding to local impacts of climate change); (4) Avoid inciting “apocalypse fatigue” and instead highlight solutions and possibilities to help foster curiosity and resolve.


Ezra Markowitz & Julie Sweetland | 07/10/18

Poll: Majority of Americans Support State Policies for Mandatory Solar Installation on New Homes

A majority of Americans (63%) somewhat or strongly support their state adopting a policy that mandates solar power installation on all new homes constructed in their state. While public support differs by partisan identity, even a majority of Republicans say they support such a policy (57% compared to 73% of Democrats surveyed). A separate poll from late May suggests overall enthusiasm for home solar, with 58% of U.S. adults saying they would consider installing solar on their homes and the rest split between “no” (22%) and “don’t know” (20%). This polling follows a recent May decision by the California Energy Commission that all new houses in the state be built with solar panels starting in 2020. Currently, California is the only state with such a mandate.

Jacqueline Toth, Morning Consult | 07/03/18

Poll: Americans see climate monitoring as top priority for NASA

More Americans (63%) think "monitoring key parts of the Earth's climate system" should be a top priority for NASA than they do any other potential priority, according to this wide-ranging survey, conducted March 27-April 9, 2018, on Americans' attitudes on NASA and space exploration.

Cary Funk and Mark Strauss, Pew Research Center | 06/06/18

M+R Benchmarks Study

While nonprofit groups' email lists expanded by 11% in 2017 (and by 13% on Facebook, 15% on Twitter and 44% on Instagram), open rates and response rates for advocacy emails shrank by 1% and 2.2% respectively. Visits to nonprofit groups' websites via mobile devices rose 9% in 2017, and accounted for 40% of the overall visits to those sites. Within the environmental sector specifically, 29% of email subscribers completed an advocacy action at least once in 2017 (compared to a 21% overall average across all nonprofits), and 8% of email subscribers took action 3 or more times (compared to a 6% average). These were just some of the key findings from this extensive report, which examined the digital media work of 154 nonprofit groups in 2017, from within and outside of the environmental community.

M + R | 05/31/18

When Does a Moment Turn Into a ‘Movement’?

If turning out thousands, or even millions, of outraged citizens merely indicates potential, how and when do we decide that a movement actually exists?  In recent decades, the right has built movements within institutions, taking over or transforming existing institutions from the school board to a national party (think: Tea Party); on the left, movements have rejected institutional change (consider Occupy). But less than a decade later, the heyday of both the Tea Party and Occupy seem largely behind us. On one hand, modern movements may need to reinvent themselves to sustain impact over the long-haul; on the other hand, it’s possible the success of such movements rests in their rapidity. Either way, a movement is ultimately defined by what it accomplishes, at which point the “impossible” suddenly transforms into the “inevitable”; the movement is what happens in between.

Beverly Gage, NY Times | 05/15/18

Poll: Global Warming Age Gap: Younger Americans Most Worried

70% of Americans age 18 to 34 worry about global warming, compared with 62% of Americans age 35 to 54 and 56% who are age 55 and older. The biggest generational gap is visible in the belief that global warming will pose a serious threat in one’s own lifetime – 51% of Americans age 18 to 24 versus 29% age 55 or older, reflecting the different timeframes involved for each age group. The second largest generational gap is around the belief that global warming is caused by human activities – 75% of Americans age 18 to 24 believe that, versus 55% age 55 or older. Young adults are also significantly more likely to think news reports on global warming underestimate the problem – 48% of Americans age 18 to 24 think that, versus 31% age 55 and older.

RJ Reinhart, Gallup | 05/11/18

Poll: Millennials prioritize energy as a core issue for 2018

According to a recent poll of 400 18-24 year-old likely conservative voters, 58% said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the development and use of clean energy, and  74% favor a system that allows people to choose where they purchase electricity and what kind of electricity they use, such as clean energy.  69% of respondents also  believe that America can create a new electricity system that benefits the environment, accelerates new technology, and creates more choice by opening up electric markets to competition.

Public Opinion Strategies for American Conservative Coalition and Conservative Energy Network | 05/08/18

Poll: One in five adults have attended a political protest, rally or speech

A new poll finds that 1 in 5 Americans has protested in the streets or participated in a political rally since the beginning of 2016, and environment and energy issues were cited among the top two most frequently protested issues. 19% of those who have protested said the actions were their first of that kind, the majority (70%) disapproved of the President, and were most likely to be college graduates and Democrats. Also, one-third of those polled say they intend to volunteer or work for a 2018 congressional campaign, and 83% of rally-goers and protesters said they are certain to vote.

The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation | 04/06/18

Poll: U.S. Energy Concerns Low; Increasing Supply Not a Priority

Americans' concern about energy, based on multiple measures, is at or near its lowest level in two decades, with just 25% of Americans saying they worry "a great deal" about the availability and affordability of energy. Diminished concern about the U.S. energy situation has likely led fewer Americans to prioritize energy production -- namely, from oil, gas and coal -- over environmental protection. Currently, 34% say the U.S. should give a higher priority to increasing energy supplies than to protecting the environment, while 59% want the environment to be prioritized. Asked to choose between an emphasis on developing alternative energy sources and increased production of fossil fuels73% of adults prefer an approach that focuses on developing alternative energy sources, while 21% favor one that targets production of more oil, gas and coal supplies.

Jeffrey Jones, Gallup | 04/02/18

Poll: Young Americans' Political Outlook and Perspectives

Young people acknowledge that the public has become more interested and involved with politics since Trump’s election in 2016. Majorities feel that people are now paying attention to politics (64%), questioning the media (62%), engaging in political activism (61%), and having conversations about race and gender issues (60% and 53%, respectively) more than they were before. 

Half of young Americans are already thinking about the 2018 midterm elections, and majorities support a number of policy changes on issues currently under debate, including addressing climate change (60%). As with older Americans, there are considerable differences in support between Democrats (77%), Republicans (32%) and Independents (58%). 

Despite the visibility of recent protests by high school students and other young people, many young Americans say they don’t have much influence on the government. 62% percent think people like themselves have little or no impact on what the government does, and 75% say public officials care only a little or not at all about what people like them think.

MTV and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research | 04/01/18

Poll: Global Warming Concern Steady Despite Some Partisan Shifts

Americans' concerns about global warming are not significantly different from the record-high levels they were in 2017. However, partisan gaps across global-warming measures are slightly wider than in 2017. 89% of Democrats -- vs. 62% of Independent voters and 35% of Republicans believe global warming is caused by human activities. Similarly, 91% of Democrats worry a "great deal" or "fair amount" about global warming, compared to 62% of Independents and 33% of Republicans. Conversely, 69% of Republicans think seriousness of global warming is "generaly exaggerated" vs. 34% of Independents and just 4% of Democrats. 

Additional analysis in the Washington Post and Mother Jones.


Megan Brenan and Lydia Saad, Gallup | 03/28/18

Is Partisanship the New Religion?

This piece argues that as Americans associate less and less with organized religion (and other civic institutions such as labor unions), one's political affiliation is now their new 'tribe' and self-identification mechanism, which has implications for their opinions and who else's opinions they listen to on climate change and other issues. Political polarization and media outlets catering to specific ideologies then further amplify the impact of this identity-by-party. The piece includes many links to supporting polling and research. 

Jeremy Deaton, Nexus Media | 03/20/18

Cutting Through the Complexity: A Roadmap for Effective Collaboration

"The Five Cs" for successful collaborations, which are key to addressing the complex social and environmental challenges we're up against, include: 1) clarifying purpose, 2) convening the right people, 3) cultivating trust, 4) coordinating existing activities, and 5) collaborating for systems impact.  These process points are remarkably consistent across collaborations, even if the focus and activities of collaborations differ. And this is largely because they help collaborators navigate the personal, political, cultural, and organizational dynamics inherent in working in collectives. A few additional items are also critical for successful collaborations, including formal governance (e.g. for timely decision making) and structures that operationalize collaboration (e.g. RE-AMP's Action Network).  Also key to healthy collaborations are strong coordination, including roles responsible for constantly sensing and responding to the emerging needs of the collaborative as it evolves, and – wait for it – funding that supports collaboration without restricting or controlling its path

David Ehrlichman, David Sawyer, and Matthew Spence. Stanford Social Innovation Review. | 03/15/18

American Climate Perspectives: March 2018

As the soon to be largest living generation in the United States, Millennials are an influential demographic for the climate movement. A recent study reveals encouraging trends in climate attitudes and behaviors, with increases in personal concern and action. In the past two years, Millennial climate concern has increased 15 points. Across the spectrum of action on climate, Millennials are also the most engaged U.S. age group. They are discussing climate change with friends and family, and at their place of worship, at higher rates than the national average. They also far surpass the national average in terms of shifting toward more energy efficient forms of transportation (59% vs. 39%). In terms of political action, 44% of Millennials have contacted or voted for an elected official based on his or her support for taking action on climate change, a rate higher than any other group.

ecoAmerica, Lake Research Partners | 03/13/18

Poll: Westerners are most likely to have felt climate change

More than half of Americans in the West say they have personally felt the impact of climate change, the highest percentage of any region. The percentage in the West has risen nine points since early January, the last time this question was asked. A majority nationally (and 64% in the West) say they expect to feel the impact of climate change sometime in their lifetime.

Overall, 59% of Americans think the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity. Somewhat significantly, the percent of Republicans agreeing that humans are responsible has jumped 11 points since January.

Americans are evenly divided as to whether recent weather events been due to climate change, and party differences dominate. By three to one, Democrats think recent severe weather can be blamed on climate change, but by an even greater margin, Republicans say they cannot. There are big differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to caring about climate change. 57% of Democrats are “very concerned” about climate change, while just 9% of Republicans are.


Economist/YouGov | 03/06/18

Poll: Millennials care about climate change

Millennials are broadly convinced human-induced climate change is real and deserves action, but millennial Republicans are relatively less concerned. 88% of millennials believe climate change is happening and 62% believe it is being driven by human activity. 69% think climate change will affect them in their lifetimes. 57% of millennials think the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction or is on the wrong track in addressing climate change. Climate change ranked 4th as the most important issue facing the country behind economy, immigration, and health care. 80% of millennials overall (including 61% of young Republicans) are concerned with air pollution and 77% (including 51% of young Republicans) are concerned about climate change. Additional analysis in Think Progress

Alliance for Market Solutions | 02/26/18

National Survey of Attitudes of Wind Power Project Neighbors

A survey of individuals living near U.S. wind power projects focused on understanding how U.S. communities are reacting to the deployment of wind turbines and providing insights to communities considering wind projects revealed a number of interesting insights. Findings indicate an overall positive attitude toward the nearby turbines, including for those living even as close as ½ mile. Roughly 8% of the population had negative attitudes within 5 miles. In an examination of a broad set of possible correlates to attitudes, it was found that neither demographic nor local wind project characteristics were significantly related. Attitudes were significantly correlated with compensation, sensory perceptions of the nearby turbines, planning process perceptions, and attitudes toward wind turbines in general. It was also found that individuals moving into the area after wind project construction were significantly more positive than those already in the community, implying that more supportive individuals might be self-selecting into the community. 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | 02/15/18

American Climate Perspectives: February 2018

While many polls consistently show that women are more likely than men to acknowledge climate science and support solutions, this poll from September 2017 found that the gender gap has evaporated on key questions of urgency to act and personal agency. Furthermore, on several questions involving personally experiencing climate impacts and shifting toward climate-friendly behavior (biking or walking, discussing climate change with friends, etc.), women of color have significantly more climate-friendly attitudes and behaviors, while white women have attitudes and behaviors that are the same as or in some cases worse than men overall.

ecoAmerica, Lake Research Partners | 02/13/18

Principles for effective communication and public engagement on climate change: A Handbook for IPCC authors

A communication guide for IPCC climate scientists contains valuable insights for climate advocates as well, such as to focus on day-to-day experience, local stories, and values, not abstract numbers and science, among its six social science-based recommendations. It also features detailed practical guidance and examples. A short video based on the report is also available.

Adam Corner, Chris Shaw, and Jamie Clarke. Climate Outreach. | 01/30/18

Poll: American Climate Perspectives: January 2018

The latest in this ongoing survey of Americans' opinions on climate, fielded in September 2017, found that while Americans are more pessimistic about our chances of tackling the problem (36% agree "Nothing we can do will stop climate change", an 8 percent jump from 2016), more Americans are talking about climate change (36% "Have heard or read about climate change from friends or family", a 9% jump from 2016), and their support for local action has increased (41% "Want their city to conserve energy", a 14% jump from 2016).  

Fery, P., Speiser, M., Lake, C., and Voss, J., ecoAmerica and Lake Research Partners | 01/18/18

Webinar: Building More Effective Campaign Narratives

Webinar conversation examined related social science research and examples of campaign and movement narratives. Their recommendations for crafting a powerful narrative include: (1) Link your campaign story to narratives and stories that people already know, and build on them -- present the status quo, help people see both alternative futures and themselves in the actions necessary to create them. (2) Build narratives that give people agency and power. Fear narratives can work when accompanied by messaging that helps people act on their concerns, but just scaring people rarely mobilises them to act.​ (3) Ask people to tell their story. Telling our own stories makes our experience more real and justifies our political and social beliefs. And, for the listener, hearing personal stories from friends, family, colleagues and others who share common experiences can validate beliefs that we hold but don’t express. Think of using stories to make civic participation an integral part of your constituent’s story and identity.

Vanessa Williamson, for Mobilisation Lab | 11/27/17

Poll: Climate Change in the American Mind: October 2017

A majority (63%) of Americans are worried about global warming, including 22% who are "very worried", the highest percentage reporting that level of concern since this ongoing survey was first run in 2008. The survey also found 64% of Americans think global warming is affecting the weather, and 33% think weather is being affected "a lot", an 8 percentage point increase from May 2017. 38% of Americans say they're talking about climate change with friends and family "often" or "occasionally", a 12 point increase from May, but still far less than the 62% who "rarely" or "never" discuss it. Only 5% say humans can and will successfully reduce global warming.  

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., Rosenthal, S., Cutler, M., & Kotcher, J. Yale University & George Mason University | 11/16/17

Honor Native Land: A guide and call to acknowledgement

In countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and among tribal nations in the U.S., it is commonplace, even policy, to open events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of that land. Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Acknowledgement is a critical public intervention, a necessary step toward honoring Native communities and enacting the much larger project of decolonization and reconciliation. 

This guide helps break down the question of, What is land acknowledgement?, offers specific steps for how to acknowledge, and offers several additional resources to move deeper into analysis, relationship, and action.

U.S. Department of Arts & Culture | 10/15/17

Poll: Beliefs on Climate Change and Severe Weather

Seven in 10 Americans say weather-related disasters are becoming more severe, and nearly half of them say this is because of climate change. 

Overall, 71% of Americans say climate change is happening, while just 12% say it is not and 17% are not sure. Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 45% say it is caused mostly or entirely by human activities, while just 16% say it is mostly or entirely the result of natural changes in the environment. 38% think it’s an equal mix of both factors. Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 82% say it is something the United States government should be addressing, regardless of its cause.

More than half of Americans say climate change is very or extremely important to them. At the same time, two-thirds disapprove of how President Trump is handling the issue. Democrats (79%) are more likely than independents (50%) or Republicans (27%) to say climate change is very or extremely important to them.

Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research | 10/12/17

Climate Change in the Latino Mind

Key findings from a nationally representative survey of 2,054 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos include: 84% of Latinos think global warming is happening and 70% understand it is mostly human caused. 78% are worried about global warming, with 35% "very worried". Latinos want corporations and industry (77%), citizens themselves (74%), President Trump (74%), and the U.S. Congress (73%) to do more to address global warming. Many Latinos are willing to take political action on global warming, including a majority who would vote for a candidate for public office because of their position on global warming (60%). A majority are also willing to join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming (51%), including 61% of Spanish-language Latinos--but 71% of Latinos have never been contacted by an organization working to reduce global warming. 

Anthony Leiserowitz, Matthew Cutler, and Seth Rosenthal, Yale University | 09/27/17

Poll: Americans divided by party on global warming's role in hurricanes

Americans are divided over whether or not global warming plays a significant role in the intensity of hurricanes, following a devastating hurricane season in the U.S. 78% of Democratic respondents believe that climate change has contributed to the recent increase in the severe tropical storms, an increase of 30 percentage points since 2005. However only 15% of Republicans answered that they believe it to be a cause, a 10-point decrease over the same time period. 48% of independents surveyed believe climate change plays a major role in the storms -- a gain of 34% since 2005. 49% of those polled believe in global warming as a cause of the increasing frequency of powerful storms, an increase of 36 percent since 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. Write up in the Hill.

CNN | 09/20/17

Why the Wiring of Brains Makes It Hard to Stop Climate Change

This op-ed discusses how our mental capacity is limited and humans are not set up well to handle esoteric issues like climate change. Most Americans know little about the ins and outs of the issue, or the policy options relating to it. Instead, opinions derive from political party affiliation or basic ideology.

But some policy strategies may be able to address some of these inherent human-nature challenges: 

  • Investments in technology. Technology can lower the cost of reducing emissions, making change easier to accept and adopt.

  • Policies that generate tangible, immediate benefits. Efforts to control soot provide a good example as both a global warming ollutant and a noxious local air problem. Those that don't care about global warming still find it in their self-interest to protect the air.

  • Political institutions can maintain a long view- surveying climate impacts regularly. This helps place extreme storms as part of patterns that needs sustained policy attention. 

David G. Victor, Nick Obradovich, and Dillon Amaya | 09/17/17

Poll: American Climate Perspectives: 2017 Annual Summary

This thorough rundown of polling covers both trend lines over time of Americans' opinions on climate and energy issues, as well as polling around specific recent events, such as support for and perceived impact of the April 2017 science marches, as well as reactions to Trump administration policies. 

ecoAmerica | 09/14/17

Public willingness to pay for a US carbon tax and preferences for spending the revenue

Public support is greatest, at nearly 80%, for using revenue from a carbon tax to support the development of clean energy (solar, wind) and for improvements to American infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc). More than 70% of Americans support using the money to assist displaced workers in the coal industry, and 66% support paying down the national debt. Between 45% and 60% support reducing federal income taxes, assisting low-income communities most vulnerable to climate change, paying a climate dividend to all households in equal amounts, and helping all communities prepare for and adapt to global warming. Fewer respondents support reductions in payroll taxes (44%) and reducing corporate taxes (24%).

Those who believe global warming is happening are 35 percentage points more likely to support the carbon tax, whereas those who do not believe global warming is happening are 25 percentage points less likely to support the carbon tax.

The survey also analyzed respondents' "willingness to pay" (or the amount that Americans would, on average, be willing to pay in support of the described carbon tax) that people are willing to pay, on average, $177 annually, but that a US$10 increase in annual household cost from a theoretical carbon tax reduces the probability of support by 1 percentage point. We find statistically insignificant effects on the probability of support based on household size and the respondent's age, gender and years of education. We do, however, find statistically significant income and race effects. A $10,000 increase in a household's annual income increases the likelihood of support by 1 percentage point. Not surprisingly, Republicans, Independents, and those having no party affiliation are significantly less likely than Democrats to support the carbon tax, with magnitudes of 11, 20, and 18 percentage points less, respectively. 

Matthew Kotchen, Zachary Turk, and Anthony Leiserowitz, Yale University. Environmental Research Letters | 09/13/17

Poll: More Republicans Concerned About Climate Change After Hurricanes


More Republican voters are worried about climate change after massive hurricanes pummeled states including GOP-heavy state Texas, Florida and Louisiana. 57% percent of Republican registered voters said they were concerned about climate change and its impact on the environment, up 7 percentage points from April. 67% voters polled said they were concerned about climate change and its environmental impact, although concern among Democrats and independents actually dipped (7 and 4 percentage points, respectively). 

When asked about the contribution of climate change to recent natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that impacted parts of Texas and Louisiana, 61% of voters — including 52% of GOP voters — said the changing climate had at least some impact, while 21% believed it had little or no impact. 52% of registered voters believe that climate change is making natural disasters more frequent, and the same percentage said climate change is making those disasters more powerful. Geography also appears to be playing a role in driving public sentiment toward a more hawkish view on the subject in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 41% of respondents who reside in the South said they were very concerned about climate change’s impact on the U.S. environment, up 8 percentage points from the spring survey.  

Write-up here.

Morning Consult and Politico | 09/13/17

‘Negative Partisanship’ Explains Everything

The rise of intense political polarization among the American public can be traced to the growth in negative partisanship, or a partisan’s intense hatred towards the opposing party that can even overshadow support for their own. In this way, Republicans may dislike President Trump but they’ll still vote for him to make sure that a Democrat loses. This can apply to policy, as well, where a person’s decision to support or oppose a measure may be rooted in what brings more anguish and disappointment to the other side. In a climate context, negative partisanship can translate into conservatives who espouse climate skepticism – even though they may be negatively affected by its consequences – in order to inflict losses upon hated political enemies like Al Gore or environmentalists. However, negative partisanship is not solely constrained to the right and liberals may also fall prey, such as through blanket demonizing the Republican Party.

Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster. Politico. | 09/05/17

Beliefs about Climate Beliefs: The Importance of Second-Order Opinions for Climate Politics

Americans (including high-level Congressional staffers) underestimate how many of their fellow citizens believe in climate change. But one group is prone to overestimating: Republicans who believe in climate change are overly optimistic about the number of other Republicans who also believe. In general, people tend to believe public opinion on climate is more in line with their own beliefs. Indicating the potential value of correcting these beliefs, the study also found that telling Americans the true level of Chinese belief in climate change (98%) increased their support for the 2014 US-China climate agreement. Hear a discussion on the study at the 20:30 mark of this Energy Gang podcast.

Mildenberger & Tingley, UCSB and Harvard, British Journal of Political Science | 08/23/17

Americans Oppose EPA & Environmental Budget Cuts

Only 22 percent of respondents believe the federal government spends too much on protecting the environment. Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency; programs that reduce pollution in low-income and minority communities; and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, providers of forecasts and early warnings about dangerous weather and natural disasters. The strongest support for these safeguards and programs—and opposition to cutbacks—is from Democrats and Independents. But a sizable number of Republicans, more than one-third in most cases, also oppose them. 

NRDC and American Viewpoint | 08/10/17