Over 70% of Americans—and two-thirds of Utahns—think that climate change is happening. Research led by Dr. Peter Howe reveals this statistic, along with much more detailed data about how Americans think about climate change from the national to the local level. Drawing from large surveys of the American public, Dr. Howe’s research has developed statistical methods to map public opinion, risk perceptions, and responses in every state, county, and even neighborhood across the country. Although climate change has become a politically polarized issue, the data show that Americans agree about many of the solutions. This presentation will highlight how these newly available tools can help decisionmakers, researchers, and educators understand how local communities are thinking about and responding to climate change and associated risks.
Peter D. Howe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Society in the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. A native of Utah, he grew up in Salt Lake City and earned bachelors degrees from Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies before joining the faculty of Utah State in 2013. Dr. Howe is an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist with roots in human-environment geography and geographic information science. His research focuses on the intersection of human decision making with climate change and environmental hazards, using large-scale social surveys, geospatial analysis, statistical modeling, and geovisualization. In 2018, Dr. Howe received a 5-year National Science Foundation CAREER award to model the dynamics of public perceptions and behaviors in the context of climate change adaptation. He serves on the leadership team for the $2.7M NSF Climate Adaptation Science graduate research traineeship program at USU. Dr. Howe’s research has appeared in leading journals such as Nature Climate Change and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and his publications have received over 1500 citations. His work has received widespread national media attention and public engagement, including four stories in the New York Times since 2015.