Research & Insights

Meet the New Spokespeople For Climate Change: Politicians

For some time now, social scientists have been hot on the pursuit of the answer to the question that would explain why there’s such a disconnect between what the science tells us about the causes and effects of climate change and what the public believes.

According to researchers who looked at 75 surveys taken between 2002 and 2012 to track changing public attitudes about climate change over a 10-year period, severe weather events don’t necessarily change the national mood about climate change. Instead, researchers Robert Brulle, Jason Carmichael, and J. Craig Jenkins says comments from U.S. political leaders have more sway over what the public believes.

Writing in the journal Climactic Change, they also say media coverage can be influential, though not as much what people hear their political leaders say.

They note, however, media coverage of politicians discussing the seriousness of climate change can have an effect on public attitude about climate change.

They argue that for a communications strategy aimed at winning minds in the climate change battle“must be linked to a broader political strategy.”

Climatic Change, February 2012

Robert J. Brulle, Department of Culture and Communications, Drexel University
Jason Carmichael, Department of Sociology, McGill University
J. Craig Jenkins, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University

Posted: August 11, 2014
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