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Study: Climate belief blows hot and cold

Feb. 5, 2013 at 3:15 PM

NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Americans' belief in climate change goes where the weather goes, researchers say, as exposure to changeable temperatures influences attitudes to climate change.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada, studying U.S. public opinion polls and opinion articles in major U.S. newspapers from 1990 to 2010, say their analysis suggests a cold snap may lead to skepticism over climate change whereas a particularly hot spell may increase concern over climate change.

The researchers said they analyzed the relationship between average national temperatures and the "belief in" and "worry about" attitudes to climate change expressed in the polls and in editorial and opinion articles.

"Our findings help to explain some of the significant fluctuations and inconsistencies in U.S. public opinion on climate change," researcher Simon Donner said. "The study demonstrates just how much local weather can influence people's opinions on global warming. We find that, unfortunately, a cold winter is enough to make some people, including many newspaper editors and opinion leaders, doubt the overwhelming scientific consensus on the issue."

The study has been published in the journal Climatic Change.

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