Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust
24 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2010
Date Written: July 2, 2010
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.
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