What Role Will Climate Change Concerns Play in the 2016 Election?

Earlier this week, NY Times science/environmental journalist and @DotEarth blogger Andrew Revkin posted findings from a recent poll of US voters about their level of concern about global warming. The results are not inspiring or encouraging, as the vast majority of those polled state that climate change is a very low priority among the many issues important to voters in the upcoming presidential election.

US climate change poll 2016July NYTimesAs Revkin states:

Since 2008, the “Six Americas” survey by researchers at Yale and George Mason University has provided a valuable running view of the range of American views on climate change and related issues. A new analysis in the context of the election, drawing on data from March, shows we’re going back in time, in essence. . . .

So despite the “scary boring” string of “warmest” temperature records of late (see “shifting baselines“), despite years of “worse than we thought” findings and messages, “meh” still wins the day.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for pursuing progress on clean energy and building community resilience. On both of these issues, there’s evidence that the United States has “no red-blue divide.”

But it does mean that centering rhetoric on the “climate crisis” may not do much more than energize those already alarmed (keeping in mind that this also energizes those at the “dismissive” end of the range).

For more analysis of these data and some reflections on its implications for science communication and environmental journalism, see Revkin’s post here.

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