Reality and Perceptions of Climate Change

Friday, October 13, 2017
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
McConnell Hall, Rm 220
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Lynne Cooper
603 862-2227
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Dr. Lawrence Hamilton, Professor of Sociology, and Senior Fellow, Carsey School of Public Policy, UNH
As the evidence-based scientific consensus on the reality and seriousness of anthropogenic climate change strengthened to near-unanimity over the past decades, US political leaders and public opinion remain widely divided, primarily along partisan lines. General-public surveys show a gradual (not event-driven) rise in public acceptance, without narrowing the partisan gap. Political divisions on climate change spill over to views on other science topics, or scientists in general. They even affect recollections of local weather. Divisions are widest among the most educated partisans, who are more aware of leadership positions, and more selective in acquiring infor-mation that supports existing views. Broad efforts at science communication, through diverse voices and media, are incrementally shifting public perceptions. Extreme events such as recent wildfire and hurricane seasons may have cumulative effects as well.

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