Data reveals where climate change skeptics and believers live in the US… so which way


U.S. states have become more divisive in recent years over Covid-19 vaccines, abortion and political affiliation, but a new study is adding one more divide into the mix: climate change.

An estimated 15 percent of Americans do not believe in the climate change alarmism that has become widespread in recent years.

Research has shown there is a strong connection between people’s political affiliation, followed by their level of education, the area’s Covid-19 vaccination rates and income.

According to the study, climate skepticism is most prevalent in central and southern Republican-led states, as one might expect.

In contrast, mostly coastal states with a higher Democratic population have a high percentage of climate change believers.

Climate change deniers lived in Republican-led states while believers were more likely to live in states with a high Democratic population

Climate change deniers lived in Republican-led states while believers were more likely to live in states with a high Democratic population

Researchers analyzed 40 million tweets on X related to global warming and climate change. 

The team narrowed their search by first looking at tweets from accounts with their location information, accounting for more than 73 percent of the data.

Then the researchers further eliminated all national level and fake locations, and to reduce the possibility of recording non-human accounts, they removed all users who tweeted more than 20 times daily.

This left the researchers with 640,000 ‘clean accounts’ and separated them into two groups – climate change believers and non-believers – using Transformer, a deep learning AI model that had been trained to identify tweets that were against or for climate change.

If the model identified an ambiguous tweet or researchers on the team couldn’t agree on which stance it took, the tweet was excluded from the data.

The AI model further narrowed down the findings to a balanced sample of 6,500 tweets, identifying 3,300 as climate change believers and 3,200 as climate change deniers.

 Researchers defined deniers as people who claim humans are not the main cause of climate change, don’t believe climate change is real, claim experts are unreliable, say the impacts are not serious, and the proposed solutions are inefficient.

According to the study, researchers said they were not surprised to find that the vast majority of people who don’t believe in climate change are located in areas of the country that discount science-based health or safety recommendations and show an overall resistance to science.

‘According to the theory of identity-protective cognition, people tend to selectively credit or discredit evidence in patterns that reflect beliefs that predominate in their group,’ the researchers said.

‘This theory helps explain why those who vote Republican are more likely to believe tweets from former President Trump regarding climate change than from other sources; it is identity-affirming.’

The study reported that climate change deniers commonly re-tweeted similar posts by former President Donald Trump and conservative media outlets like Fox News and the Washington Examiner and alt-right news and blogs like The Daily Wire and Daily Caller that ‘broadcast contrarian views on climate change.’

Other websites that published misleading and false claims about climate change were also commonly re-tweeted including TownHall Media and the Climate Depot; and other right-wing producers, political commentators and activists like Chuck Woolery.

Climate change believers and deniers differed drastically on their beliefs about whether there is still time to adapt to climate change and whether humans are the main cause

Climate change believers and deniers differed drastically on their beliefs about whether there is still time to adapt to climate change and whether humans are the main cause

‘During the 2017-2019 study period, the most heavily retweeted post includes one by Trump that questions climate change due to unusually cold weather in the U.S., and another where he casts doubt on a U.N. climate report,” study senior author Joshua Newell, professor and co-director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability told Pys.org.

He continued: ‘In almost half of the tweets analyzed, the most common refrain was that ‘climate change was not real.’

‘Other frequent explanations were that humans are not the primary cause and that climate change experts are unreliable.’

A large swath of the climate change deniers live in states with high rates of Republican voters including Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, and Tennessee and more than 20 percent of the population of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Dakota

Meanwhile, climate change believers were primarily clustered in Democratic-led states including California, Washington, Arizona, and across New England and the Great Lakes region.

Even in these areas, there are pockets where people go against the grain like Shasta County in California where 52 percent of people don’t believe in climate change, even though deniers make up less than 12 percent of California’s overall population.

The same is true in Texas where 87 percent of the population are believers compared to 21 percent of the state’s overall population denying that climate change exists.

The study comes as climate change is on the rise, with the Earth’s temperature rising by .1-degree Fahrenheit every decade since 1850 and warming at a rate more than three times as fast since 1982, rising by .36 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.

Climate change has already had a profound effect on the Earth including melting glaciers, rising sea levels, more intense heat waves, and increasing natural disasters, but if climate change is allowed to continue, it will have a profound effect on the future of our planet.

Scientists predict that by 2100, sea levels will rise by at least another foot, but can rise as high as 6.6 feet, hurricanes will become stronger and more intense, there will be a longer wildfire season and more droughts, heat waves and the Arctic Ocean is likely to become ice-free, according to NASA.

Yet researchers reported in the new study that 59 percent of the total number of deniers believe climate change is a ‘conspiracy theory or hoax and a shadowy attempt to dupe the public into bearing the costs of decarbonization while generating enormous wealth for Blue ‘elites.’”

The study added that climate change denialism poses a major risk as communities face increasing natural disasters including flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes as well as extreme heat and rising sea levels.

By ignoring the signs of climate change and refuting its existence, the researchers said deniers ‘tend to underestimate their current (and future) risk to it.

‘This renders them less likely to take necessary steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change.’



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