Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust

24 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2010  

Anthony Leiserowitz

Yale University

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

Connie Roser-Renouf

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

Nicholas Smith

Yale University

Erica Dawson

Yale School of Management

Date Written: July 2, 2010

Abstract

Nationally representative surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009 found significant declines in Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and trust in scientists. Several potential explanations for the declines are explored, including the poor state of the economy, a new administration and Congress, diminishing media attention, and abnormal weather. The analysis also specifically examines the impact of Climategate – an international scandal resulting from the unauthorized release of emails between climate scientists in England and United States. The results demonstrate that Climategate had a significant effect on public beliefs in global warming and trust in scientists. The loss of trust in scientists, however, was primarily among individuals with a strongly individualistic worldview or politically conservative ideology. Nonetheless, Americans overall continue to trust scientists more than other sources of information about global warming.

Suggested Citation

Leiserowitz, Anthony and Maibach, Edward W. and Roser-Renouf, Connie and Smith, Nicholas and Dawson, Erica, Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust (July 2, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633932 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1633932

Anthony Leiserowitz (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Connie Roser-Renouf

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Nicholas Smith

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Erica Dawson

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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