The American public’s preference for preparation for the possible effects of global warming: impact of communication strategies
- 1.1k Downloads
Experiments embedded in surveys of nationally representative samples of American adults assessed whether attitudes toward preparation for the possible effects of global warming varied depending on who endorsed such efforts, the stated purpose of preparation, the consequences of global warming targeted in a preparation message, and the words used to describe preparation and its alternative. Collapsing across all experiments, most (74 %) Americans preferred preparing for possible consequences of global warming. The experimental manipulations produced statistically significant variation in this percentage, but in ways inconsistent with a series of perspectives that yield predictions about this variation. Preference for preparation was not greater when it was described using more familiar or simpler terms (preference for preparation was greatest when it was described as to “increase preparedness” and least when described as “increase resilience”), when efforts were said to be focused on people’s health rather than on people and the environment generally or on coastal ecosystems in particular, or when preparation was endorsed by more generally trusted groups (preference for preparation was highest when no one explicitly endorsed it or when endorsed by government officials or university researchers and declined when religious leaders or business leaders endorsed it). Thus, these experiments illustrate the value of empirical testing to gauge the impact of variation in descriptions of policy options in this arena and illustrate how communication approaches may have influenced public opinion in the past.
KeywordsGlobal Warming Government Official Religious Leader General Trust Business Leader
This study was sponsored by the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University. The authors thank Manuel Gomez-Ramirez and Hector Santa Cruz for their assistance with the Spanish translation of the questionnaire and thank Christine Harrison for her advice. Jon Krosnick is University Fellow at Resources for the Future.
- Albarracin D, Johnson BT, Zanna MP (eds) (2005) The handbook of attitudes. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, MahwahGoogle Scholar
- Friedman U, Narula SK (2014) The UN’s new focus: Surviving, not stopping, climate change. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/04/the-uns-new-focus-surviving-not-stopping-climate-change/359929/. Accessed 7 April 2014
- Holdren JP (2010) Text of remarks by Obama science adviser John Holdren to the National Climate Adaptation Summit. Climate Science Watch. http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2010/05/28/text-of-remarks-by-obama-science-adviser-john-holdren-to-the-national-climate-adaptation-summit/. Accessed 8 October 2013
- Hovland CI, Janis IL, Kelley HH (1953) Communication and persuasion: psychological studies of opinion change. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2013) Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner GK, Tignor MMB, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (eds) Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007) Global climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, pp 433–497Google Scholar
- Jackson L (2011) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Policy Statement on Climate-Change Adaptation. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/Downloads/impacts-adaptation/adaptation-statement.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2014
- Kaufman L (2011) A city prepares for a warm long-term forecast. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?_r = 1&. Accessed 7 April 2014
- Kerry J (2014) Release of Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change Working Group 2 Report. U.S. Department of State. http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/03/224161.htm. Accessed 7 April 2014.
- Kucera H, Francis WN (1967) Computational analysis of present-day American English. Brown University Press, ProvidenceGoogle Scholar
- La Vorgna M, Passalacqua L (2013) Mayor bloomberg outlines ambitious proposal to protect city against the effects of climate change to build a stronger, more resilient New York. NYC: The official website of the City of New York. http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/201-13/mayor-bloomberg-outlines-ambitious-proposal-protect-city-against-effects-climate-change. Accessed 7 April 2014
- Luers AL, Moser SC (2006) Preparing for the impacts of climate change in California: Opportunities and constraints for adaptation. Report prepared for the California Energy Commission, Public Interest Energy Research Program and the California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento, California, CEC-500-2005-198-SFGoogle Scholar
- Moser SC, Dilling L (2013) Communicating climate change: opportunities and challenges for closing the science-action gap. In: Dryzek JS, Norgaard RB, Schlosberg D (eds) The Oxford handbook of climate change and society. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp 161–175Google Scholar
- National Research Council (NRC) (2010) Adapting to the impacts of climate change. The National Academies Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Petty RE, Wegener DT (1998) Attitude change: multiple roles for persuasion variables. In: Gilbert D, Fiske S, Linzey G (eds) The handbook of social psychology, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 323–390Google Scholar
- Putnam RD (2000) Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Rodgers P (2014) Climate change: We can adapt, says IPCC. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulrodgers/2014/03/31/climate-change-is-real-but-its-not-the-end-of-the-world-says-ipcc/. Accessed 7 April 2014
- Sears DO, Funk CL (1990) Self-interest in Americans' political opinions. In: Mansbridge JJ (ed) Beyond self-interest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 147–170Google Scholar
- Thomsen DC, Smith TF, Keys N (2012) Adaptation or manipulation? unpacking climate change response strategies. Ecol Soc 17(3):20–29Google Scholar
- Tol RSJ (2005) Emission abatement versus development as strategies to reduce vulnerability to climate change: an application of FUND. Environ. and Dev. Econom. null(5):615-629Google Scholar
- Vendley WF (2011) Forward from the Secretary General. In Action and advocacy for climate change: A resource guide for religious communities. Religions for Peace—International. New York, New York. http://religionsforpeace.org/assets/action-and-advocacy-for.pdf. Accessed 7 April 2014.
- Wilbanks T, Bilello D, Schmalzer D, Scott M et al (2012) Climate change and energy supply and use: technical report to the U.S. department of energy in support of the national climate assessment. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak RidgeGoogle Scholar