Climate Change Actions Are Far More Popular Than People in U.S. Realize – Scientific American

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Climate Change

A multibillion-dollar slate of moderate climate-mitigation measures in the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act has been met so far with general public approval. But a broader reaction to the historic federal action underlies the discourse: What took you so long?

A survey-based study published on Tuesday suggests that a shared delusion among nearly all Americans could contribute to the long delay in significant federal climate policy. Despite polls showing widespread concern about climate change and majority support for policies to mitigate it, the new study shows that Americans almost universally underestimate the extent of climate concern among their compatriots. They also underestimate the extent of public support—at the state and national level alike—for policy measures to address the climate emergency.

Distorted beliefs about support for climate policy, and about concerns over climate change in general, are so commonly held among the more than 6,000 American adults in the researchers’ nationally representative sample that the study’s authors call these misperceptions a “false social reality.” Recent polls from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication show that 66 to 80 percent of people in the U.S. support major climate mitigation policies. But participants in the new study estimated that only between 37 and 43 percent do so. A range of 80 to 90 percent of those polled by the researchers underestimated the U.S. population’s climate concern and support for major climate mitigation policies.

The misperception trend held when participants were asked to estimate the percentage of Americans who were at least somewhat concerned about climate change. And it did so in responses to questions of perceived support for each of four relatively aggres …

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