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Belief In Climate Change Depends On Location, Study Says

First Posted: Dec 20, 2016 04:27 AM EST

If people are freezing right now because of the unusually cold winter, they might doubt climate change. On the other hand, if others are living in warmer locations, climate change is real. A new study found that local weather may play a pivotal role in the belief of Americans in climate change.

Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that Americans' belief that the Earth is warming is associated with the frequency of weather-related events they experience, hinting that local changes in the climate could influence the way they accept global warming.

"The local weather conditions people experience likely play a role in what they think about the broader climate," Peter Howe, co-author from Utah State University, said as reported by Science Daily.

"Climate change is causing record-breaking heat around the world, but the variability of the climate means that some places are still reaching record-breaking cold. If you're living in a place where there's been more record cold weather than record heat lately, you may doubt reports of climate change," he added.

The researchers collected information based on a statistical model of more than 12,000 respondents in the United States between 2008 and 2013 by the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication and the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

For instance, those who experience record highs of temperatures than lows are more likely to believe that climate change is real, and indeed, the planet is warming. On the other hand, Americans who live in areas who experience more record low temperatures like those from the southern portions of Ohio and the Mississippi River basins would doubt that global warming is happening.

The study researchers noted that this discrepancy might be because of the early terminology used to describe climate change. It suggests that the Earth is simply becoming warmer, not changing in countless ways.

"Who do Americans trust about climate change; scientists or themselves?" Robert Kaufmann, lead author of the paper, said as reported by EurekAlert. "For many Americans, the answer seems to be themselves," he added.

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