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There's the old saying that you should never discuss politics or religion in polite company. Nowadays, it seems climate change has joined that list.
Barely more than a third of Americans broach the subject often or even occasionally, according to a recent survey by researchers at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Climate - Change - Americans - Perception - Rest
All this not talking about climate change has given Americans a rather skewed perception of what the rest of the country thinks about the issue.
The average person estimates that only 54% of her fellow Americans believe climate change is happening. In reality, 69% do, according to the same Yale survey.
Warming - Needle - Opinion - Yale - Team
The more we talk about global warming, the more we might move the needle on public opinion, the Yale team reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers found that simply increasing the frequency of climate-related discussions shifted people's perceptions of the scientific consensus on human-caused warming as well as their own attitudes on the matter.
Findings - Climate - Conversations - Friends - Family
"These findings suggest that climate conversations with friends and family enter people into a proclimate social feedback loop," the researchers wrote.
Matthew Goldberg is a social psychologist at Yale University and lead author of the new study. He spoke with the Los Angeles Times about climate silence and how to break it.
Question - Silence
Question: What is climate silence?
Answer: Our most recent nationally representative survey shows that 69% of people find climate change to be at least somewhat important to them. But only 37% discuss it at least occasionally. So most people think it's important, yet most people don't talk about it. This discrepancy is often referred to as climate silence.
Q - Climate - Change
Q: Why don't Americans talk about climate change more?
A: There are a lot of reasons. For some, the issue just isn't salient to them. But there's also a lot of research on perceptions about what...
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