Perceived scientific agreement and support for government action on climate change in the USA
Given the well-documented campaign in the USA to deny the reality and seriousness of anthropogenic climate change (a major goal of which is to “manufacture uncertainty” in the minds of policy-makers and the general public), we examine the influence that perception of the scientific agreement on global warming has on the public’s beliefs about global warming and support for government action to reduce emissions. A recent study by Ding et al. (Nat Clim Chang 1:462–466, 2011) using nationally representative survey data from 2010 finds that misperception of scientific agreement among climate scientists is associated with lower levels of support for climate policy and beliefs that action should be taken to deal with global warming. Our study replicates and extends Ding et al. (Nat Clim Chang 1:462–466, 2011) using nationally representative survey data from March 2012. We generally confirm their findings, suggesting that the crucial role of perceived scientific agreement on views of global warming and support for climate policy is robust. Further, we show that political orientation has a significant influence on perceived scientific agreement, global warming beliefs, and support for government action to reduce emissions. Our results suggest the importance of improving public perception of the scientific agreement on global warming, but in ways that do not trigger or aggravate ideological or partisan divisions.
KeywordsGlobal Warming Climate Policy Political Orientation Government Action Political Ideology
The authors thank the Gallup Organization for making the data available for analysis.
- Bollen K (1989) Structural equations with latent variables. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Bostrom A et al (2011) Causal thinking and support for climate change policies: international survey findings. Glob Environ Chang 22:210–222Google Scholar
- Dunlap RE, McCright AM (2011) Organized climate change denial. In: Dryzek J, Norgaard R, Schlosberg D (eds) Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, pp 144–160Google Scholar
- Hoggan J (2009) Climate cover-up: the crusade to deny global warming. Greystone Books, VancouverGoogle Scholar
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) IPCC fourth assessment report. IPCC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- Kline RB (2011) Principles and practices of structural equation modeling, 3rd edn. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- McCright AM (2009) The social bases of climate change concern, knowledge, and policy support in the US general public. Hofstra Law Rev 37:1017–1047Google Scholar
- Mooney C (2012) The Republican brain: the science of why they deny science—and reality. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- National Research Council (2010) Advancing the science of climate change. National Academy Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
- O’Connor RE, Bord RJ, Fisher A (1999) Risk perceptions, general environmental beliefs, and willingness to address climate change. Risk Anal 19:461–471Google Scholar
- Oreskes N, Conway EM (2010) Merchants of doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. Bloomsbury Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Powell JL (2011) The inquisition of climate science. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar