Blowing hot and cold: US belief in climate change shifts with weather

Feb 05, 2013

A University of British Columbia study of American attitudes toward climate change finds that local weather – temperature, in particular – is a major influence on public and media opinions on the reality of global warming.

The study, published today by the journal Climatic Change, finds a strong connection between U.S. and public and media attitudes towards over the past 20 years – with skepticism about global warming increasing during cold snaps and concern about 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 UBC Geography Prof. Simon Donner who conducted the study with former student Jeremy McDaniels (now at Oxford University).

The researchers used 1990-2010 data from U.S. and media coverage by major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. They 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 related to climate change.

While many factors affect climate change attitudes – political views, media coverage, personal experience and values – the researchers suggest that headline-making weather can strongly influence climate beliefs, especially for individuals without strong convictions for or against .

"Our study demonstrates just how much can influence people's opinions on global warming," says 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."

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runrig
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
Is it me or is this finding only to be expected? It is human nature to switch off and imagine their world to be universal - so if its unseasonably warm with you then you would be more likely to accept that the world is too, and vice versa.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 05, 2013
It is human nature to switch off and imagine their world to be universal

As one of my personally favorite authors keeps repeating:
"personal is not the same thing as important"
-- Terry Pratchtt

This is something most people will never understand.

And when it comes right down to it: the opinion of people who know nothing about anything isn't important. To those that do the work there is no doubt.
(It's like in sports: Fans don't dicatete how their favorite team is coached in the least. The fans don't matter)

Science isn't an opinion based issue.
runrig
4.6 / 5 (9) Feb 05, 2013

Science isn't an opinion based issue.


I totally agree.
ray_hedley_98
5 / 5 (7) Feb 05, 2013
Let's not forget, 36 percent of all U.S. citizens believe President Barack Obama isn't American so sadly facts are hard to fathom for so many.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2013
And all of them are ignorant Conservatives.

"36 percent of all U.S. citizens believe President Barack Obama isn't American" - Ray

Every last one.

And Conservatives make up about half the U.S. population.

So where does the America's Cancer stem?
ray_hedley_98
4.9 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2013
And all of them are ignorant Conservatives.

"36 percent of all U.S. citizens believe President Barack Obama isn't American" - Ray

Every last one.

And Conservatives make up about half the U.S. population.

So where does the America's Cancer stem?

I watch a lot of U.S. news VendicarE (Canadian politics can be so boring)and am constantly amazed at what I hear sometimes.
My cable company offered a free preview week of "Fox News" and I laughed almost as much as Jon Stewart, but they aren't trying to be funny, just poison minds
The Alchemist
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2013
@Howhot-if 'he's' around, see, I wasn't hatin' on you a few articles back. People really are hot and cold running GW-ers. During the sunspot years I am mocked for saying it's not CO2. During normal years I am mocked for believing in AGW.
It's hard carrying the burden of truth.
@Ray, u r so right.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2013
I haven't watched TV for the last 12 years. I started to tune out when wrestling and fake (reality) TV started to be introduced, and all socially redeeming programming was cancelled by the corporations who were sold the air waves.

"preview week of "Fox News" and I laughed almost as much as Jon Stewart" - Ray

Faux News is the principle way America's brain Cancer metastasizes.

There are actually real scientific studies that have been conducted and show that people who watch Faux news actually know less after watching the news than they did before.

Faux News is anti-news.

ray_hedley_98
5 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2013
I haven't watched TV for the last 12 years. I started to tune out when wrestling and fake (reality) TV started to be introduced, and all socially redeeming programming was cancelled by the corporations who were sold the air waves.

You mean you're missing out on the "Kardashians" ? lol
Believe me, you ain't missing nuttin.
VendicarE
5 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2013
At this point for new programming I watch "Big Bang Theory", "Clone Wars", and "Tron Uprising" (just cancelled)

I know what a Kardashian is, but I am not impressed.

Why AmeriTards view such filth is beyond me. No wonder the content of Political speeches in the U.S. has dropped 4 grade levels since Lincoln.