Climate Change Beliefs Shift with the Weather

Via the Earth Institute, Columbia University

Evidence showing manmade global warming is rising, yet opinion polls suggest public belief in the findings wavers.  Researchers now have a potential explanation for that fluidity in beliefs.

In three separate studies, researchers affiliated with Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) surveyed about 1,200 people in the United States and Australia, and found that those who thought the current day was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and feel concern about global warming than those who thought the day was unusually cold. A new paper describing the studies appears in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Ongoing studies by other researchers have already provided strong evidence that opinions on climate and other issues can hinge on factors unrelated to scientific observations.  In the current paper, respondents were fairly good at knowing if it was unusually hot or cold--perceptions correlated with reality three quarters of the time—and that the perception exerted a powerful control on their attitude. As expected, politics, gender and age all had the predicted influences.

Read more here.