New Study: Political Identity Is the Strongest Indicator of Climate Acceptance
Though the partisan divide on climate change appears to be closing, whether or not someone accepts the reality of climate change still depends largely on their politics. A new analysis published in Nature Climate Change found that political affiliations and worldviews were the most reliable indicators of a person’s beliefs about climate change – more so than age, race, or gender.
This Washington Post article reports on the new study and offers a number of recommendations for how to use the information – many are strategies we’ve been endorsing ourselves. The best way to approach someone who is skeptical about climate change is to acknowledge their differing point of view, and then move on to solutions. It’s key to avoid partisan language, while framing climate issues and actions in ways that align with the person’s worldview (for example, showing how climate solutions can help create energy independence or increase national security).
It’s also important for conservatives who support clean energy and other climate policies to speak out (this new conservative Super PAC is designed to do just that). This can help their fellow conservatives feel more comfortable supporting climate solutions.
The study also found that, even if a person is aware of climate change and think something needs to be done, their beliefs don’t always translate into action. One way to address this is to present climate solutions as an investment in a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous world, rather than a sacrifice.
For more tips on effective climate communication, download our new report, Let’s Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans.
By Chelsea Harvey, contributor to The Washington Post
Dozens of surveys and studies have attempted to figure out which factors most heavily influence individuals’ beliefs about climate change and their support for climate-friendly policies. But because there have been so many published recently, scientists argue that it’s been difficult to keep up with the overall trends these studies have been revealing.
Now, some clarity is being offered in the form of a new analysis published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, which reviews all the existing literature on climate change beliefs and pulls out the broad conclusions that can be drawn from all the combined research. The findings highlight two major ideas about the public’s feelings on climate change. First, the analysis suggests that out of all the personal characteristics examined by scientists so far, political affiliations, worldviews and values were the most significant predictors of a person’s beliefs about climate change. Second — and perhaps somewhat disheartening — a person’s belief in climate change doesn’t necessarily translate into big support for climate-friendly action.
Image credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr