Tracking Public Perception about Climate Change

Caitlin Dempsey

Updated:

The Yale Climate Opinion Maps track public opinion among adults (defined as age 25 and older) on their “particular beliefs, attitudes, and policy preferences about global warming”.  

The series of 14 maps tracks the percentage of US residents on their climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support for regulations. These maps show how Americans’ attitudes about climate change, risk perceptions, and policy support differ by state, congressional district, metro area, and county.

How the Public Perception Maps on Climate Change Were Created

The statistical estimates about the public perception among adults was developed from the results of more than 13,000 individuals that were surveyed between 2008 and 2014.  The researchers estimated the margin of error for each level: average margin of error of +/-5 percentage points at the state level, +/-7 percentage points at the congressional district level and +/-8 percentage points at the county level.

The results of the research was recently published in Nature Climate Change.


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The maps can be viewed at the national, state, congressional district, and county levels. To explore the maps and data visit the Yale Climate Opinion Maps (updated for 2020).

Overall, the study found that 63% of Americans believe that global warming is happening.  A map view of this belief on the county level shows that the percentage varies greatly from county to county.

County level map of estimated % of adults who think global warming is happening, 2014.
County level map of estimated % of adults who think global warming is happening, 2014.

References

Howe, P., Mildenberger, M., Marlon, J., & Leiserowitz, A. (2015) “Geographic variation in opinions on climate change at state and local scales in the USA,” Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2583.

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.