Number One Climate Action: Talk about Climate

July 17, 2019

Proceedings of the National Academy – Discussing global warming leads to greater acceptance of Climate Science:

…discussing global warming with friends and family leads people to learn influential facts, such as the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is happening. In turn, stronger perceptions of scientific agreement increase beliefs that climate change is happening and human-caused, as well as worry about climate change. When assessing the reverse causal direction, we find that knowing the scientific consensus further leads to increases in global warming discussion. These findings suggest that climate conversations with friends and family enter people into a proclimate social feedback loop.

Studies also show that messaging on the overwhelming consensus of scientists on the climate issue is one of the most effective messages to change minds.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication:

Other research has looked at how climate change messages vary across different U.S. states. In this experiment, we found that exposing people to the “consensus message” that “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening” is particularly effective in traditionally dismissive parts of the country. Several fossil fuel-producing parts of the country exhibited the strongest positive response, especially West Virginia, North Dakota, and Wyoming. These findings were published in Nature Climate Change in 2018.

In one study, we sought to answer the important question of whether communicating climate change facts can cause issue polarization. As part of a randomized experiment, we exposed half of the sample (6,301 Americans) to a simple scientific fact — “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening”. People who read this “consensus message” adjusted their estimates of the consensus upward in the direction of the actual scientific norm (97%). The message also reduced polarization between higher educated liberals and conservatives by nearly 50%. These findings were published in Nature Human Behavior in 2017.

To bolster that message, check the video below – where I interviewed researchers who replicated the “overwhelming consensus” finding.

2 Responses to “Number One Climate Action: Talk about Climate”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    As part of a randomized experiment, we exposed half of the sample (6,301 Americans) to a simple scientific fact — “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening”. People who read this “consensus message” adjusted their estimates of the consensus upward in the direction of the actual scientific norm (97%).

    This sounds like it might be an anchoring effect, where people retain a number as a reference when asked a followup question.

    I’m not confident it’s anything but transitory.

  2. grindupbaker Says:

    I don’t have any friends or family for some reason so instead I’ve been discussing global warming with Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, encyclopedia & life insurance salesmen. You’ll often hear me chasing an encyclopedia salesman down the street listing the details of Earth’s energy budget.


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