Whether people accept the scientific evidence that the earth is getting warmer is influenced by political ideology, religious beliefs and what the weather is doing outside at any given moment, according to recent scholarly research. How people change their behavior when facing circumstances relevant to climate change can also hinge on what they want for dinner.
• Researchers asked people to report their opinions about global warming and whether the temperature on the day of the study was warmer or cooler than usual. Respondents who said the day was warmer were more concerned about global warming and were more persuaded that global warming was a reality. The study didn’t say whether the respondents’ opinions changed when the day cooled off.
• A study of people in the San Francisco Bay Area found that those whose political ideology had shifted from liberal to conservative had declining concern about global warming. The researchers also found that having a college education and some knowledge of science doesn't increase concern for global warming for people who profess a conservative ideology
• An analysis of political polarization in Congress suggests that a prime cause is the growing conservatism of the Republican Party due to the powerful influence of evangelical Christians. The study doesn’t deal with climate change as such. But if we accept the notion that belief in climate change goes down when conservatism goes up (see study above), then it’s reasonable to think that religious zeal, political conservatism, and climate change apostasy are interrelated—at least in Congress.
• Scientific findings suggest that greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles contribute to global warming. An increase in gas prices might therefore be a hopeful development because people will drive less to save money. But it appears this is not the case. A study of grocery shoppers indicates they don’t curtail their driving when gas prices rise. Instead, they hunt for cheaper or lower quality food by driving to big box stores rather than to local markets.
Kevin Lewis social research summary: www.nationalaffairs.com/commentary/type/naonline.
Public Understanding Science: http://pus.sagepub.com/content/19/6/743.abstract )