Princeton University2014-07-07 4:20 PM

Public interest in climate change over the past decade and the effects of the 'climategate' media event


Despite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as debated and contentious. There is concern that two recent high-profile media events—the hacking of the University of East Anglia emails and the Himalayan glacier melt rate presented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—may have altered public opinion of climate change. While survey data is valuable for tracking public perception and opinion over time, including in response to climate-related media events, emerging methods that facilitate rapid assessment of spatial and temporal patterns in public interest and opinion could be exceptionally valuable for understanding and responding to these events' effects. We use a novel, freely-available dataset of worldwide web search term volumes to assess temporal patterns of interest in climate change over the past ten years, with a particular focus on looking at indicators of climate change skepticism around the high-profile media events. We find that both around the world and in the US, the public searches for the issue as 'global warming,' rather than 'climate change,' and that search volumes have been declining since a 2007 peak. We observe high, but transient spikes of search terms indicating skepticism around the two media events, but find no evidence of effects lasting more than a few months. Our results indicate that while such media events are visible in the short-term, they have little effect on salience of skeptical climate search terms on longer time-scales.

Full Article:





Princeton University

0 Following 0 Fans 0 Projects 9 Articles


Why do people so often use metaphorical expressions when literal paraphrases are readily available? This study focuses on a comparison of metaphorical

Read More

AbstractLarge herbivorous mammals play an important role in structuring African savannahs and are undergoing widespread population declines and local e

Read More

AbstractHealth at birth is an important predictor of long-term outcomes, including education, income, and disability. Recent evidence suggests that mat

Read More

AbstractDespite overwhelming scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic climate change, many in the non-expert public perceive climate change as deb

Read More

AbstractSymmetry-broken three-dimensional (3D) topological Dirac semimetal systems with strong spin-orbit coupling can host many exotic Hall-like pheno

Read More

AbstractHow do marginalized social categories, such as being black and gay, combine with one another in the production of discrimination? While much ex

Read More

AbstractResults from three studies demonstrate that victims’ justice-related satisfaction with punishment is influenced by the kind of feedback they re

Read More

AbstractEach bacterial species has a characteristic shape, but the benefits of specific morphologies remain largely unknown. To understand potential fu

Read More

AbstractRecent research has shown that the degree to which speakers and listeners exhibit similar brain activity patterns during human linguistic inter

Read More