Weather can alter climate change beliefs

Jan. 24, 2013 at 4:48 PM   |   0 comments

DURHAM, N.H., Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Climate change beliefs held by independent voters can be dramatically swayed by short-term weather conditions, University of New Hampshire researchers reported.

This is in contrast to how voters aligned with a political party hold on to their beliefs, they said.

"We find that over 10 surveys, Republicans and Democrats remain far apart and firm in their beliefs about climate change. Independents fall in between these extremes, but their beliefs appear weakly held -- literally blowing in the wind," researchers Lawrence Hamilton and Mary Stampone wrote in the journal Weather, Climate and Society.

"Interviewed on unseasonably warm days, independents tend to agree with the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. On unseasonably cool days, they tend not to," Hamilton and Stampone said.

Hamilton is a professor of sociology and Stampone is a professor of geography and is also the New Hampshire state climatologist.

They used statewide data from about 5,000 random-sample telephone interviews conducted on 99 days during 2 1/2 years, and correlated that with temperature and precipitation records.

Weather had a substantial effect on climate change views mainly among independent voters, they found.

"The shift was dramatic," Hamilton said. "On the coolest days, belief in human-caused climate change dropped below 40 percent among independents. On the hottest days, it increased above 70 percent."

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