Climate change beliefs of independent voters shift with the weather, UNH study finds
There's a well-known saying in New England that if you don't like the weather here, wait a minute. When it comes to independent voters, those weather changes can just as quickly shift beliefs about climate change. New research from the University of New Hampshire finds that the climate change beliefs of independent voters are dramatically swayed by short-term weather conditions. The research was conducted by Lawrence Hamilton, professor of sociology and senior fellow at the Carsey Institute, and Mary Stampone, assistant professor of geography and the New Hampshire state climatologist.
"We find that over 10 surveys, Republicans and Democrats remain far apart and firm in their beliefs about climate change. Independents fall in between these extremes, but their beliefs appear weakly held -- literally blowing in the wind. Interviewed on unseasonably warm days, independents tend to agree with the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. On unseasonably cool days, they tend not to," Hamilton and Stampone say.
Hamilton and Stampone used statewide data from about 5,000 random-sample telephone interviews conducted on 99 days over two and a half years (2010 to 2012) by the Granite State Poll. They combined the survey data with temperature and precipitation indicators derived from New Hampshire's U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) station records. Survey respondents were asked whether they thought climate change is happening now, caused mainly by human activities. Alternatively, respondents could state that climate change is not happening, or that it is happening but mainly for natural reasons.
Unseasonably warm or cool temperatures on the interview day and previous day seemed to shift the odds of respondents believing that humans are changing the climate. However, when researchers broke these responses down by political affiliation (Democrat, Republican or independent), they found that temperature had a substantial effect on climate change views mainly among independent voters.
"Independent voters were less likely to believe that climate change was caused by humans on unseasonably cool days and more likely to believe that climate change was caused by humans on unseasonably warm days. The shift was dramatic. On the coolest days, belief in human-caused climate change dropped below 40 percent among independents. On the hottest days, it increased above 70 percent," Hamilton says.
New Hampshire's self-identified independents generally resemble their counterparts on a nationwide survey that asked the same questions, according to the researchers. Independents comprise 18 percent of the New Hampshire estimation sample, compared with 17 percent nationally. They are similar with respect to education, but slightly older, and more balanced with respect to gender.
In conducting their analysis, the researchers took into account other factors such as education, age, and sex. They also made adjustments for the seasons, and for random variation between surveys that might be caused by nontemperature events.
Source: University of New Hampshire
- Views on Climate Change Swayed By Weatherfrom Live ScienceFri, 25 Jan 2013, 15:31:01 EST
- Weather can alter climate change beliefsfrom UPIThu, 24 Jan 2013, 17:30:18 EST
- The Weather Outside Today Affects Your Stance On Climate Changefrom PopSciThu, 24 Jan 2013, 16:30:28 EST
- Climate change beliefs of independent voters shift with the weatherfrom Science DailyThu, 24 Jan 2013, 13:30:33 EST
- Climate change beliefs of independent voters shift with the weather, another study findsfrom PhysorgThu, 24 Jan 2013, 10:50:21 EST
- Climate change beliefs of independent voters shift with the weatherfrom Science BlogThu, 24 Jan 2013, 10:50:19 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- New study indicates Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago
- NIST, UC Davis scientists float new approach to creating computer memory
- NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event
- Room temperature magnetic skyrmions, a new type of digital memory?
- Bio-inspired robotic finger looks, feels and works like the real thing
- Signs of ancient megatsunami could portend modern hazard
- To breathe or to eat: Blue whales forage efficiently to maintain massive body size
- New dietary guidelines must be sustainable, regardless of politics
- New polymer creates safer fuels
- UD researcher: Players object to extreme physique of video game characters
- A snapshot of Americans' knowledge about science
- Parsing photons in the infrared, UCI-led astronomers uncover signs of earliest galaxies
- Researchers identify 3 new fossil whale species of New Zealand
- Burning remaining fossil fuel could cause 60-meter sea level rise
- Financial distress can hinder success of academically prepared minority students