A recently released study by researchers from a team at Boston College, Princeton College and Indiana University reveals that far more Americans are at least “somewhat concerned” about climate change than most Americans think. 

This was true of respondents across all categories of political orientation, age, gender, race, education, income and media preferences. The researchers call this a “false social reality.” Researcher Gregg Sparkman told Scientific American “Virtually everyone seems to greatly underestimate how popular climate policy is and to underestimate how concerned their fellow Americans are about climate change.”

This finding is particularly true of those who identify as Republicans. Sparkman says that whereas almost half of Republicans are concerned about climate change, they think they are in a small minority of Republicans.

It is increasingly clear that supporters of climate policy are in fact a broad majority and should advocate as such, leveraging the political influence of the majority to create policy momentum. Politicians do not create public opinion, but are skilled at following it. Once they realize they have underestimated the level of public support for climate action, it becomes much more likely they will speak in support of, and vote for, policies to address climate change. While there are many issues on which America is polarized, climate change is actually not one of them.

Simon Diggins

Salt Lake City