Nationally representative survey data in the UK shows that extreme cold weather is seen as confirming climate change, rather than disproving it.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A LOOK:
Recent extreme cold weather snaps in the UK and the Polar Vortex in North America have brought out of the woodwork the ‘snow trolls’ who try and use cold weather as evidence the climate is not changing. This report shows that in the UK, exceptionally cold winters are generally understood to be bizarre or different from what is expected, which people link to climate disruption.
The decline in public acceptance and concern about climate change coincided with a period of unusually cold winters in the Northern Hemisphere, which were generally thought to have contributed to the decline in public concern.
This paper looked at the influence of people’s worldview (individualists are less likely and egalitarians more likely to believe in climate change) as well as the wider cultural context of how climate change was being reported in the mainstream media.
People viewed cold weather as supporting evidence for climate change at a ratio of 3:1, and their belief in climate change was closely linked to their worldview, with self identified sceptics interpreting evidence differently to those concerned about climate change.
For the UK winter of 2010/11, from 132 media articles on the weather, 41 directly commented on the link between cold weather and climate change, with 18 supporting the link to climate, 18 suggesting the cold was inconsistent with climate change, and 5 being indeterminate.
Exceptionally cold winters are generally understood to be bizarre or different from what is expected, which people link to climate disruption.
Photo via (cc) Edward Stojakovic, flickr