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Climate Change in the American Mind


Climate Change in the American Mind

Public opinion plays a critical role in the American response to global warming. Our twice a year Climate Change in the American Mind nationally representative surveys investigate, track, and explain public climate change knowledge, risk perceptions, policy support and behavior. Our findings are published in numerous reports and peer-reviewed articles and are cited by leading news organizations, academic journals, and online media around the world.

The most recent reports, from our surveys conducted in 2019 – 2021, are:

Americans’ Actions to Limit and Prepare for Climate Change, August 2021

Climate Change in the American Mind, June 2021

Public Support for International Climate Action, March 2021

Politics & Global Warming, March 2021

Climate Change in the American Mind, December 2020

Politics & Global Warming, December 2020

Climate Change in the Minds of U.S. News Audiences, October 2020

Climate Change in the American Mind, April 2020

Politics & Global Warming, April 2020

Climate Activism: Beliefs, Attitudes, and Behaviors, November 2019

Our surveys—conducted in partnership with the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University—are the most comprehensive of their kind and draw on the leading scholarship and survey research expertise of our multidisciplinary staff and partners. Our findings provide insights vital to the design of effective climate change education and communication campaigns conducted by local, state, and national governments, environmental organizations, academic institutions, businesses, faith groups, doctors, and scientists.

Global Warming’s Six Americas

Our research has identified “Global Warming’s Six Americas,” six unique target audiences in the U.S. that respond to climate change in different ways. Understanding these Six Americas—from the “Alarmed” (Americans who are very worried about global warming and are taking action) to the “Dismissive” (those who think global warming is non-existent, not a threat, or an outright hoax)—has been critical to the efforts of NGOs, advocates, government organizations, and others seeking to better communicate the threat of global warming to their constituencies. The surveys have greatly advanced our understanding of the psychological, cultural, and political drivers of American climate change attitudes, policy preferences, and behaviors.

State and Local Studies

We also conduct representative state and local surveys to gain a deeper understanding of how different parts of the country, and different audiences, think about climate change. Examples include our Yale Climate Opinion Maps and individual studies in AlaskaCalifornia (including an in-depth survey of San Francisco), ColoradoFloridaNew York CityOhio (including an in-depth survey of Columbus), and Texas.

International Studies

Working with local governments and academic institutions, we conducted the largest-scale surveys about climate change ever executed in two major carbon-emitting countries—India and China—whose actions are vital to successful efforts to curb global warming:

The Climate Literacy Project

As a supplement to the Climate Change in the American Mind surveys, we conducted a large-scale national survey assessment of adult and 6-12 grade students’ understanding of the climate system and the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change. This project provided a baseline assessment for climate change educators across the United States and an evaluation tool for educators to assess and track improvements in climate literacy among students and public audiences. We published several reports based on the findings: