About two-thirds of Americans say they worry about global warming and support policies to reduce it. But most do not realize that their views are so widely shared.
“What we found is that the vast majority of Americans underestimate just how many of their fellow Americans support these transformative climate policies, like a carbon tax or a Green New Deal, or a 100% renewable energy mandate,” says Gregg Sparkman, an assistant professor in the department of psychology and neuroscience at Boston College.
His team asked more than 6,000 Americans to estimate the percentage of other Americans who worry about climate change and support climate policies. They compared those numbers with polling data from Yale and George Mason University.* “While actual supporters of climate policies outnumber opponents two to one, we see that Americans think it’s the other way around,” Sparkman says.
This misperception matters. When people feel alone in their views, they are less likely to take action. So he says it’s important to start conversations about climate change — “to voice your concerns about climate change to others, to talk about climate policies that you think are exciting: These kinds of conversations, when done en masse, will help correct this misperception,” Sparkman says.
*Editor’s note: The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which jointly conducts these polls, is the publisher of this site.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media