Many land trusts struggle with how to communicate about climate change in the communities they serve. That’s because climate change continues to be a polarizing issue — and it’s challenging to authoritatively know where local views fall along the spectrum of beliefs.
Fortunately, there are multiple tools available to help decipher the American mind when it comes to understanding climate change, along with beliefs about the associated science, politics and local impacts. One of my favorites comes from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which has examined American perceptions and beliefs about climate change since 2008.
Their new and ongoing research shows that Americans hold diverse views on global warming that fall into six distinct categories, termed Global Warming’s Six Americas. These categories range in their beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and behavior. Research shows that seven in ten Americans (70 percent) think global warming is happening, which nearly matches the highest level (71 percent), recorded in 2008. By contrast, only about one in eight Americans (13 percent) think global warming is not happening.
You can read about these six Americas and their views in their most recent report: Global Warming’s Six Americas and the Election.
Also, the Yale crew recently produced a handy tool: Climate Opinion Maps. This tool was developed using data through 2016. You can explore the maps by clicking on your state, congressional district or county, and then compare the results with other geographic areas. Give it a look!
Erin Heskett is director of national and regional services for the Land Trust Alliance.