Weather or Not? Examining the Impact of Meteorological Conditions on Public Opinion Regarding Climate Change
30 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 3 Sep 2012
Date Written: 2012
Between 2008 and 2012 surveys of Americans indicated substantial variation in public views on the existence of global warming. During the period from 2008 to 2010 the number of Americans who felt that global warming was occurring dropped significantly. Then in 2011 and early 2012 acceptance of global warming began to rebound in the United States. This volatility in public opinion regarding global warming has drawn the attention of scholars who have attributed the shifts to a variety of factors including volatile economic conditions, increased political partisanship, media framing and variable weather conditions. In this study we dive deeper into the examination of the role that weather has played in producing the fluctuations in public belief that global warming is happening. Using results from 7 national surveys between 2008 and 2012 we find evidence that Americans regularly cite weather as a key determinant of their positions on the existence of global warming. We also find that actual weather conditions are related to both the likelihood that an individual would cite weather as a primary cause of their views on global warming and that overall acceptance of global warming is significantly affected by experiences with weather.
Keywords: global warming, climate change, public opinion
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