Climate Change in the American Mind: March, 2016

7. How Americans Conceptualize Global Warming

Majorities of Americans think global warming is a major environmental, scientific, agricultural, and/or severe weather issue.

Global warming is a complex challenge to humanity with many dimensions. Understanding how people conceptualize the issue is critical to formulating effective communication strategies.

To better understand how Americans think about global warming, we asked respondents to indicate what kind of issue, if any, they consider it to be: environmental, scientific, economic, health, moral, religious, etc. For each category of the issue they selected, we then asked if they consider it to be a major or minor issue.

Majorities of Americans say global warming is a major environmental (68%), scientific (59%), agricultural (55%), or severe weather issue (54%). Nearly half consider it a major health (45%) or economic issue (44%).

Fewer currently consider it to be a major moral (24%), national security (18%), poverty (17%), social justice (16%), or religious issue (7%).