Study: Opinions on Climate Change Rise and Fall With the Temperature

Photo Credit: US NewsAmericans’ opinions on climate change blow with the wind—with more concern shown in years that are much warmer or much colder than normal—according to a new study released Tuesday.

Five of the nation’s top newspapers were also more likely to publish opinion pieces that showed “belief” in climate change during years that were colder or warmer than normal. Previous studies have suggested that people are more likely to believe in or “show worry” about global warming when the weather is particularly bad, but the study, published in the journal Climatic Change, is the largest to date and uses data from 1990 to 2010, a much longer time period than previous studies.

“I’m not surprised by the results judging by how pervasive these opinions were in the polls,” says study author Simon Donner, of the University of British Columbia’s department of geography. “I think certainly on a public understanding of science issue it’s a problem. Even if the planet is warming, we’re going to have cold years.”

Donner says that newspapers were more likely to publish opinion pieces about climate change during heat waves in an attempt to make the connection between day-to-day weather and climate. Climate change is not a “breaking story,” according to Donner.

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