News ID: 123459
Published: 0323 GMT July 28, 2015

Predictors of climate change awareness vary around globe

Predictors of climate change awareness vary around globe

Using data from the largest cross-sectional survey of climate change perceptions ever conducted, researchers writing in Nature Climate Change today report the first global assessment of factors underlying climate change awareness and risk perception. They say results indicate that to be most effective, climate-related messages must be tailored to public awareness and perceptions specific to each nation.

Co-author Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC), says, "Overall, we find that about 40 percent of adults worldwide have never heard of climate change. This rises to more than 65 percent in some developing countries, like Egypt, Bangladesh and India. There is still a critical need for basic climate literacy in many countries,” Physorg reported.

Ezra Markowitz at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with Tien Ming Lee of Columbia University, Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale and others at Utah State University, say that worldwide, education level is the single strongest predictor of climate change awareness and that understanding the human causes of climate change is the strongest predictor of risk perception, "particularly in Latin America and Europe, whereas perception of local temperature change is the strongest predictor in many African and Asian countries," they write.

The researchers analyzed data from nationally representative samples of 119 countries collected for the Gallup World Poll conducted in 2007 and 2008.

Markowitz, an assistant professor in the environmental conservation department at UMass Amherst, says, "It was interesting to uncover these differences across countries, but in some ways one of the most insightful outcomes is the reminder that what motivates one person to engage with this issue is not necessarily the same as what motivates the next person.”

He adds, "Although this is not a revolutionary insight, it is important for communicators and others to keep in mind. Advocates would love a one-size-fits-all approach to climate communication because it would be easier and cheaper, but it is not the most effective strategy; people are too diverse in what connects them to this issue. For communicators this is an important message."

   
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