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Living Green

Climate change beliefs? Changeable as the weather

People’s attitudes toward climate change are as changeable as the weather itself, found a recent study from the University of British Columbia.

The study revealed that American’s attitudes could be linked in the weather they are experiencing – with skepticism about global warming increasing during cold snaps and concern over climate change growing during hot spells.

“Our findings help to explain some of the significant fluctuations and inconsistencies in U.S. public opinion on climate change,” says U.B.C. Geography professor Simon Donner, who conducted the study with former student Jeremy McDaniels (now at Oxford University).

Analyzing 20 years of data (1990-2010) from public opinion polls and media coverage by major newspapers, the researchers evaluated the relationship between average national temperatures and opinion polls on climate change, along with the quantity and nature of media editorials and opinion pieces dealing with climate change related issues.

The researchers suggested that headline-making weather can influence public opinion on climate change, especially for individuals who might be on the fence or who do not have a strong opinion on the matter.

“Our study demonstrates just how much local weather can influence people’s opinions on global warming,” said Mr. Donner. “We find that, unfortunately, a cold winter is enough to make some people, including many newspaper editors and opinion leaders, doubt the overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue.” – EcoSeed Staff

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