News / Vancouver

U.S. attitudes toward climate change fluctuate with weather: UBC study

A UBC study finds that skepticism about climate change among Americans increases during cold snaps and concern grows during hot spells.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Climatic Change, found a strong connection between U.S. weather trends and public and media attitudes toward climate science over the last 20 years.

Using 1990-2010 data from U.S. public opinion polls and coverage in major newspapers, the researchers found headline-making weather can strongly influence climate beliefs, particularly for people without strong convictions about climate change to begin with.

"Climate change is a long-term problem, but the climate naturally varies from year to year, so we need to figure out a way that people will have conviction in their attitudes about climate change despite the ups and downs from year to year," said lead author and geography professor Simon Donner, "because otherwise it's going to be very hard to ever deal with the problem."

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