New Perception and Reinstated Focus on Climate Change

In a 2012 study from New York University and Temple University, a correlation was found between the public’s belief in climate change and the portrayal of local weather in news media.

The study, “Turning Personal Experience into Political Attitudes: The Effect of Local Weather on Americans’ Perceptions about Global Warming,” gathered data from five national opinion based surveys through the Pew Research Center. Local weather was concluded to have the greatest influence on belief in climate change when compared to other factors including age, race, and level of education.

 The surveys also demonstrated that a shift in local temperatures between below 4.3 degrees and above 14.7 degrees of the normal temperature increased an individuals chance in believing there is evidence to support global warming by 5 percent.

The study also portrayed that a person’s level of political awareness affects how he connects personal experience with global issues, with those in the middle ground feeling the greatest connection between personal experience and global issues. The state of the environment is undeniably a global issue, so it will be interesting to see how President Obama’s reinstated focus on the environment, as demonstrated by his second inaugural speech, will affect the public’s belief and perception of climate change. Both national and local news sources granted coverage to Obama’s speech increasing the public’s political awareness of the environmental issues he presented.

The issue of climate change is taking the forefront in his second term. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Obama said. His attention to the environment may serve to lend credence to this debated issue for many non-believers, increase coverage of the environment in the news media, and give even further meaning to the weather on local news stations. 

Will an executive focus on the environment increase support for conservation and for evidence of climate change? Do you think support from an authoritative figure for the belief in climate change can have more influence than personal experience such as change in local temperatures?



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