Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Local weather patterns affect beliefs about global warming, NYU and Temple researchers find

26.07.2012
Local weather patterns temporarily influence people's beliefs about evidence for global warming, according to research by political scientists at New York University and Temple University.

Their study, which appears in the Journal of Politics, found that those living in places experiencing warmer-than-normal temperatures at the time they were surveyed were significantly more likely than others to say there is evidence for global warming.

"Global climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time, but it is a complex issue with which Americans have little direct experience," wrote the study's co-authors, Patrick Egan of New York University and Megan Mullin of Temple University. "As they try to make sense of this difficult issue, many people use fluctuations in local temperature to reassess their beliefs about the existence of global warming."

Their study examined five national surveys of American adults sponsored by the Pew Research Center: June, July, and August 2006, January 2007, and April 2008. In each survey, respondents were asked the following question: "From what you've read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?" On average over the five surveys, 73 percent of respondents agreed that the earth is getting warmer.

Egan and Mullin wondered about variation in attitudes among the survey's respondents, and hypothesized that local temperatures could influence perceptions. To measure the potential impact of temperature on individuals' opinions, they looked at zip codes from respondents in the Pew surveys and matched weather data to each person surveyed at the time of each poll. They used local weather data to determine if the temperature in the location of each respondent was significantly higher or lower than normal for that area at that time of year.

Their results showed that an abnormal shift in local temperature is associated with a significant shift in beliefs about evidence for global warming. Specifically, for every three degrees Fahrenheit that local temperatures in the past week have risen above normal, Americans become one percentage point more likely to agree that there is ''solid evidence'' that the earth is getting warmer. The researchers found cooler-than-normal temperatures have similar effects on attitudes—but in the opposite direction.

The study took into account other variables that may explain the results—such as existing political attitudes and geography—and found the results still held.

The researchers also wondered if heat waves—or prolonged higher-than-normal temperatures—intensified this effect. To do so, they looked at respondents living in areas that experienced at least seven days of temperatures of 10° or more above normal in the three weeks prior to interview and compared their views with those who experienced the same number of hot days, but did not experience a heat wave.

Their estimates showed that the effect of a heat wave on opinion is even greater, increasing the share of Americans believing in global warming by 5.0 to 5.9 percentage points.

However, Egan and Mullin found the effects of temperature changes to be short-lived—even in the wake of heat waves. Americans who had been interviewed after 12 or more days had elapsed since a heat wave were estimated to have attitudes that were no different than those who had not been exposed to a heat wave.

"Under typical circumstances, the effects of temperature fluctuations on opinion are swiftly wiped out by new weather patterns," they wrote. "More sustained periods of unusual weather cause attitudes to change both to a greater extent and for a longer period of time. However, even these effects eventually decay, leaving no long-term impact of weather on public opinion."

The findings make an important contribution to the political science research on the relationship between personal experience and opinion on a larger issue, which has long been studied with varying results.

"On issues such as crime, the economy, education, health care, public infrastructure, and taxation, large shares of the public are exposed to experiences that could logically be linked to attitude formation," the researchers wrote. "But findings from research examining how these experiences affect opinion have been mixed. Although direct experience—whether it be as a victim of crime, a worker who has lost a job or health insurance, or a parent with children in public schools—can influence attitudes, the impact of these experiences tends to be weak or nonexistent after accounting for typical predictors such as party identification and liberal-conservative ideology."

"Our research suggests that personal experience has substantial effects on political attitudes," Egan and Mullin concluded. "Rich discoveries await those who can explore these questions in ways that permit clean identification of these effects."

Egan is an assistant professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics at NYU and Mullin is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Temple University.

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht NSF-supported scientists present new research results on Earth's critical zone
13.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>