Framing Science

Since Earth Day, a number of polls have been released confirming that public opinion on climate change has changed very little over the past two years or since the premiere of Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Conventional wisdom pegged Gore’s film and media campaign as changing the nature of the debate in the public’s mind, but unfortunately this interpretation doesn’t hold up to the data. Americans already concerned about the issue have grown more intense in their feelings, while many others continue to disregard the problem.

The latest evidence is this Pew survey, that details the lingering divide in public perceptions among partisans on the topic, with this divide greatest among the college educated. For more background, see this column I wrote on “Going beyond Gore’s message,” a study I recently published reviewing two decades of public opinion data on global warming, this recent news analysis of polling trends, and this earlier discussion of what exactly accounts for the major gulf in perceptions among college educated partisans.


  1. #1 Jeremy
    May 12, 2008

    Republicans are more likely to believe global warming is happening if they aren’t college educated? A complete reversal from the Democrats and Independents!

  2. #2 Ian
    May 12, 2008

    Firstly, your chart shows opinions related to global warming when it’s tied to human activity. It reveals nothing about those who accept global warming but do not accept that it’s tied to human actvity.

    Secondly, if a reasonable presentation like Gore’s actually hasn’t shifted perceptions, then what on Earth makes you and Chris Mooney think that an ‘anti-expelled’ documentary will shift the even more entrenched opinions regarding creation??

  3. #3 Steve
    May 15, 2008

    Matthew, I’d be interested in your take on two findings from the Pew Study: 1) the 13 point drop among Republicans on the question of whether there’s solid evidence of warming, and 2) the odd difference between college and non-college educated Republicans on the same question. What are the possible explanations? Do these results suggest anything about the effectiveness of particular messages or campaigns?

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