A Rose by Any Other Name …?: What Members of the General Public Prefer to Call 'Climate Change'

Climatic Change Letters, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011  

Karen L. Akerlof

George Mason University - Center for Climate Change Communication; George Mason University - Environmental Science & Public Policy

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

Date Written: April 9, 2011

Abstract

Abstract Unlike many other environmental problems, the terms used to describe the phenomenon of increasing atmospheric concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases are many, with multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings. Whether there are meaningful distinctions in public perceptions of “global warming,” “climate change,” and “global climate change” has been a topic of research over the past decade. This study examines public preferences for these terms based on respondent characteristics, including climate change beliefs, political affiliation, and audience segment status derived from the “Global Warming’s Six Americas” classification. Certainty of belief in global warming, political affiliation and audience segment status were found to be the strongest predictors of preference, although “I have no preference” was the modal response. Global warming appears to be a more polarizing term than climate change, preferred most by people already concerned about the issue, and least by people who don’t believe climate change is occurring. Further research is needed to identify which of these two names promotes the engagement of people across the spectrum of climate change beliefs in constructive dialogue about the issue.

Keywords: Global warming, global climate change, climate change, survey

Suggested Citation

Akerlof, Karen L. and Maibach, Edward W., A Rose by Any Other Name …?: What Members of the General Public Prefer to Call 'Climate Change' (April 9, 2011). Climatic Change Letters, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1806213

Karen Akerlof (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Center for Climate Change Communication ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

George Mason University - Environmental Science & Public Policy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Edward W. Maibach

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
41
Abstract Views
552