As we begin the new year, we wanted to highlight some of our work from 2016 and to talk about the next steps for these projects in 2017.
1. Climate Change in the American Mind
Since 2008, with our partners at the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, we’ve conducted a twice-a-year series of nationally representative surveys on Americans’ responses to climate change. One of the main themes of 2016 was, of course, the US election. In the spring, we looked at the role climate change was playing in the primaries, including the important finding that global warming was the 6th most important voting issue among liberal Democrats, with the environment #4 and clean energy #8. Impressively, the issue has become a high priority among the Democratic base. That said, we also found that it was last on the list of voting issues among all types of Republicans, demonstrating yet again that the issue remains deeply polarized.
In the fall, we conducted the first survey of climate opinion after the Nov. 8th election and released an assessment of public support for the Trump and Republican Congressional climate change agenda. We found that despite polarization on the reality or seriousness of climate change, there is still substantial public support for a variety of climate policies across party lines. For example, seven of ten registered voters, including Republicans, continue to support the Paris Agreement. Likewise a majority supports putting strict limits on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants – the heart of the Clean Power Plan. Earlier in the year, we that found that in fact 61% of the public in the states suing to stop the Clean Power Plan actually support CO2 limits on coal-fired power plants. And Americans overwhelmingly support the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy future. These and other results strongly indicate there’s a large and perhaps growing disconnect between public opinion and the stated agenda of the new president and Congress.
In our spring survey, we also explored the “spiral of silence” about climate change in the US: more than half of those who are interested in global warming or think the issue is important “rarely” or “never” talk about it with family and friends. Break the silence! We also continued our research on how different faith communities are responding to the issue.
2016 public reports included:
2. Yale Climate Opinion Maps
In 2015 we released a statistical model that “downscales” our national survey results and estimates public climate change opinion for all 50 states, all 435 Congressional districts, and 3,000+ counties across the US. Our online interactive maps allow visitors to investigate public global warming beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support in each of these locations across the nation.
In 2016, we applied the same technique to Canadian climate opinion data and released a model and mapping tool for Canada, as Prime Minister Trudeau and leaders across Canada met to discuss a new national climate change policy.
In 2017, please stay tuned as we will soon be releasing v3.0 updated with our latest national survey data, new variables, and geographies. We hope the results will help you in your own efforts.
3. Climate Connections national radio broadcast
We’ve entered the third year of our daily, 90-second national radio program called “Climate Connections”. The series helps listeners connect climate change to their daily lives and the people and organizations working to solve it. More than 600 episodes later, the program is now broadcast daily on more than 270 radio stations in the US and Canada, mapped here. We’ll soon be going live with a fun, interactive story map, showing where each of our stories takes place. All episodes are available at the Climate Connections website and as podcasts on iTunes. And thank you to the many thousands who have joined the Climate Connections conversation on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages!
2017 is likely to be a challenging year with many low lows and high highs as individual states and localities, the US, and nations around the world continue the bumpy transition to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable world. As always, thank you for your support and encouragement – we look forward to continuing our work together.