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Global Warming & the Rising American Electorate

Environmental groups are spending record amounts of money on environment and energy campaign ads this season. Candidates in hotly contested races are using climate change to distinguish themselves from their opponents, even though the issue is not top-tier for voters in the midterms.

An important driver of the prominence of global warming in American politics is how the issue resonates with the so-called Rising American Electorate (RAE) – Millennials (18-to-30 year olds), Latinos, African Americans, and unmarried women, among others. According to the Census, the RAE is a rapidly growing segment within the U.S. population and as a group, the RAE comprised nearly half (48%) of the electorate in 2012 according to national exit polls.

As the RAE votes in growing numbers, they will increasingly replace more traditional types of voters, such as older white men and married women. So what does the RAE think of global warming?

In our Spring 2014 survey, we asked a representative sample of American voters how a candidate’s support or opposition to reducing global warming would influence their vote. While all registered voters appear more likely to support a pro-climate action candidate (45%) over an anti-climate action candidate (17%), the RAE is particularly likely to do so when compared to traditional voters (51% and 12%, respectively).

 

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Climate Change Education Program Works

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new article that demonstrates the effectiveness of a nationwide climate change education program focused on high schools in the journal Climatic Change.

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What’s So Funny About Climate Change? Anthony Leiserowitz on Panel with Comedy Writers

On September 19, YPCCC Director Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz discussed "What's So Funny About Climate Change?" alongside some of the funniest comedy writers on a panel presented by Hollywood, Health & Society (HHW&S) and co-sponsored by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).

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Media “Echo Chambers” and Climate Change

We are pleased to announce the recent publication of a new peer-reviewed article: Feldman, L., Myers, T., Hmielowski, J., & Leiserowitz, A. (2014). The mutual reinforcement of media selectivity and effects: Testing the reinforcing spirals framework in the context of global warming. Journal of Communication. DOI:10.1111/jcom.12108

Given the diverse sources of news now available in the U.S., partisans can easily choose news sources that align with their political attitudes. Does the rise of partisan news—on cable, talk radio, and the Internet—allow Americans to insulate themselves in “echo chambers” where they are exposed only to content consistent with their opinions, while shielded from dissenting views? If so, this may reinforce partisans’ existing attitudes, making it increasingly difficult for policymakers and the public to achieve mutual understanding and compromise on the most pressing issues of the day, including climate change.

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Uncovering the Truth about Global Warming’s Health Impacts at the People’s Climate March

Participants in the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st each came with a message.  Looking across the endless river of people and signs flowing through Manhattan it was hard to absorb the vast variety of communication on display.                                                                                                                         Noticeable though was one young man in a lab coat clutching a placard, “Climate Change is a Health Crisis.” The sign conveys a serious consequence of global warming that few Americans currently understand.

In June, we reported that Americans have not yet connected the dots between global warming and impacts on health.   When we asked Americans in our national survey for their best estimate of the impact on human health worldwide—now and 50 years into the future—the majority of respondents said, “I don’t know.” Only 18% to 32% of Americans said correctly that each year worldwide, thousands will die or millions will become ill, or be injured by global warming.

This understanding does not match up with scientific consensus about the severe impacts of global warming on public health.

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Beyond Partisanship on Climate Change

The visuals at the People’s Climate March in New York last Sunday conveyed more than just catchy slogans and clever words of inspiration. The signs and costumes and floats were messages to the world designed to create change.  This marcher is making a very clear statement that is supported by our findings, presented in our recent report, Politics and Global Warming, Spring 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                   We find that while big differences do exist between conservative Republicans and Democrats, other Republicans look more like Democrats than their conservative fellow party members on numerous climate issues. Just one example among registered voters: Majorities of Democrats (88 percent) and moderate-to-liberal Republicans (61 percent) think global warming is happening. By marked contrast, only about one in four – 28 percent – conservative Republicans agree.

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