Is Climate Change Changing Minds? Limited Effects of the Physical Environment on Climate Policy Opinion in the United States

21 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020

See all articles by Matt Motta

Matt Motta

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater

Date Written: February 3, 2020

Abstract

Conventional wisdom predicts that people impacted by climate change effects should be more supportive of climate change mitigation efforts. However, previous research offers conflicting evidence on this score. To disentangle these conflicting findings, I devise novel and highly-favorable tests of the effects of the physical environment; merging FEMA climate disaster declaration records – which have been shown to be highly influential in shaping public opinion – into five large nationally representative surveys (N = 213,250). Even under substantively and statistically favorable conditions, I find that recent experience with climate-related disaster (N = 29,067) is associated with only a small (1%) increase in support for mitigation policy. These results are robust to several modeling strategies, and do not appear to be the result of ideological “ceiling effects.” I conclude by discussing how these findings can help inform effective climate change policy communication efforts.

Keywords: climate change opinion, public opinion, environmental policy, political psychology, survey research

Suggested Citation

Motta, Matt, Is Climate Change Changing Minds? Limited Effects of the Physical Environment on Climate Policy Opinion in the United States (February 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3531194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3531194

Matt Motta (Contact Author)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater ( email )

Stillwater, OK 74078-0555
United States

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