Study: Climate opinions shift with temps

April 6, 2011 at 6:17 PM
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NEW YORK, April 6 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say some people's beliefs on climate change can be swayed by something as simple as their own estimation of the day's temperature.

Columbia University researchers surveyed about 1,200 people in the United States and Australia and found those who thought the current day was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and feel concern about global warming than those who thought the day was unusually cold, a university release reported Wednesday.

"Global warming is so complex, it appears some people are ready to be persuaded by whether their own day is warmer or cooler than usual, rather than think about whether the entire world is becoming warmer or cooler," lead author Ye Li of the Columbia Business School's Center for Decision Sciences said.

"It is striking that society has spent so much money, time and effort educating people about this issue, yet people are still so easily influenced," he said.

"By way of analogy, when asked about the state of the national economy, someone might look at the amount of money in his or her wallet, a factor with only trivial relevance," the study said.

The study joins other strong evidence that opinions on climate and other issues can grow out of factors unrelated to scientific observations, the researchers said.

"I'm not sure I'd say that people are manipulated by the weather," Li said. "But for some percentage of people, it's certainly pushing them around."

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