Public views vary on climate change based on science, political news platforms

April 7, 2015, University of Michigan

While greater knowledge alone is unlikely to overcome the political divide on climate change, conservatives and liberals become less polarized when the perception of harm increases, according to a new study by the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.

Lead author Sol Hart, U-M assistant professor of communication studies, and colleagues examined how attention to science and may influence the public's knowledge, risk perception and support for policies. The data came from a nationally representative survey involving more than 1,200 people funded by the School of Communication at Ohio State University and the National Science Foundation.

Paying attention to science news reports on climate change increased knowledge for both conservatives and liberals, the study found. Attention to science news also raised conservative perceptions of harm closer to what liberals believed.

In contrast, increased attention to political news was not associated with knowledge gains for liberals or conservatives. Attention to political news did not impact perceptions of harm for liberals, but lowered perceptions of harm for conservatives.

The direct effect of knowledge on policy support was positive for liberals but negative for conservatives. In contrast, increased perceptions of harm were associated with more policy support for and conservatives.

The results suggest some promising pathways for science communicators, Hart said.

"For conservative audiences, employing science/environmental news platforms to highlight the potential harm and risks of climate change, rather than focusing on factual , may increase policy support among this segment," Hart said.

Furthermore, improving the accuracy of climate change coverage in political news outlets and reducing false-balance—which provides equal weight to climate advocates and deniers—especially in those outlets that lean conservative, may diminish the direct negative influence of political news on perceived harm and policy support exhibited in the analysis, Hart said.

Hart and colleagues noted that their study measured policy attitudes but did not observe voting behavior.

The findings appear in Nature Climate Change.

Explore further: Both liberals, conservatives can have science bias

More information: Public attention to science and political news and support for climate change mitigation, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2577

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gkam
3 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2015
What are places like Fox going to do when they are found to be lying about Climate Change? Probably nothing, like what happened when they lied about "WMD!", and the other disgusting lies.

The opponents of AGW are politically-motivated folk,who are tired of losing.

They got Reagan, thinking he would bring special prosperity to them,but they got taken and their money went to the super-rich.

They thought Dubya was going to do it, but he put us into the World's Biggest Bad Debt, while destabilizing the entire region, and leaving us in terrible shape.

What a goober! How many of you conservatives FELL for those lies?
mememine69
1 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2015
It's too late!
It's been 34 years of climate action failure.
But science is still 97% certain we need to SAVE THE PLANET from Human CO2.
mememine69
1 / 5 (4) Apr 07, 2015
What are places like Fox going to do when they are found to be lying about Climate Change? Probably nothing, like what happened when they lied about "WMD!", and the other disgusting lies.

The opponents of AGW are politically-motivated folk,who are tired of losing.

They got Reagan, thinking he would bring special prosperity to them,but they got taken and their money went to the super-rich.

They thought Dubya was going to do it, but he put us into the World's Biggest Bad Debt, while destabilizing the entire region, and leaving us in terrible shape.

What a goober! How many of you conservatives FELL for those lies?

You Libs knowingly exaggerate science vague consensus of 97% certainty just as an excuse to HATE and blame conservatives and the last 34 years of climate action failure and global denial proves it 100%. Deny that. Who's the fear mongering neocon again here?
gkam
5 / 5 (2) Apr 07, 2015
Aren't you conservatives sick of being wrong?

You do not need to admit you are wrong again, just stop whining.
mememine69
1 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2015
Wrong about what? About science being 97% certain despite 34 YEARS of climate action failure?
You "believers" deny the reality that another 34 years of climate action failure and global disbelief is 100% certain. Exaggerating vague science makes you libs the new neocons of fear mongering. Did Bush threaten the lives of billions of children like this?
Get ahead of the curve;
*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by trust worthy politicians.

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