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A New Study Shows That More Utahns Are Discussing Climate Change


Researchers have produced a new interactive Climate Opinion Map that allows users to see people’s climate change opinions across the U.S.

“What’s great about it is it’s relevant to anybody in any community across the country," said Peter Howe, assistant professor of human-environment geography at Utah State University. "You know we make these numbers available all the way down to the county level.”

In collaboration with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University, Howe uses national surveys dating back to 2008 that ask citizens about their risk perceptions and policy support for various climate issues.

“Nationally, there is a growing trend where more people are tending to say that global warming is happening,” Howe said.

More specifically, the interactive map shows what percentage of citizens at county, state and national levels worry about the effects of global warming happening to them and whether or not they think humans are the primary cause.

“One of the questions that we ask is 'Who tends to talk about global warming? Do you tend to talk about it with your friends and family?' and most people say they don’t across the country," Howe said. "Only about one-third of people actually discuss global warming more than occasionally, but in Utah actually, more people than the national average are talking about global warming.”

Howe says that communication is key and he speculates that issues like poor air quality and environmental disasters like wildfire are helping raise climate awareness. However, despite increased conversation, only 35 percent percent of survey respondents in Utah reported that global warming will harm them personally.

Thank you to Mikey Kettinger for the original audio.