On July 2, Surdna grantee the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication released a working paper with results from a study showing the impact of recent "Climategate" scandals on the public perception of global warming climate scientists. The study found that the scandals had a significant negative effect on public beliefs in global warming and trust in scientists, although this loss in trust appears to have been primarily among individuals with a strongly individualistic worldview or politically conservative ideology. Interestingly, the study found that Americans overall continued to trust scientists more than any other source of information about global warming.
The authors of the paper note that these changes in opinion occurred during periods of a serious recession with high levels of unemployment, an intensely partisan political environment, and an unusually cold winter in many parts of the country. Given this context, the paper asks questions about whether future events may reverse these opinion trends as outside influences change and as Americans begin to directly experience and are taught to observe the impacts of climate change occurring locally, regionally, and nationally.
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