UNH Research Finds Trump Voters Stand Apart on Renewable Energy and Climate

February 2, 2017

key findings chart

Only 25 percent of those who say they voted for Donald Trump agree with the scientific consensus that human activities are changing Earth’s climate, according to new survey research at UNH. In contrast, large majorities of Clinton voters as well as third-party voters and nonvoters believe humans are causing climate change and want to see renewable energy development be a priority.

Climate change received little media attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, but recent surveys indicate that climate change and related energy issues are taken seriously by a growing majority of the public. Almost three-fourths of Americans surveyed after the election said that renewable energy should be a higher national priority than more drilling for oil and about two-thirds agree with the scientific consensus that humans are changing Earth’s climate.

“We saw a common theme when talking about what actions those surveyed wanted to see to reduce the risks of climate change,” said Larry Hamilton, professor of sociology and a senior Carsey fellow. “While renewable energy and lifestyle changes were popular, cap-and-trade and carbon tax were not. Overall, Trump voters are much less likely than other voter groups to support any action to reduce the risks of climate change.”

“Although public recognition and a sense of urgency lag behind science, they are measurably rising,” Hamilton added. “Given the outcome of the 2016 election and the belief patterns seen in these surveys, the willingness of the U.S. to respond is in question.”

The full report can be found here: https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/energy-climate-trump.

The Winds of (Climate) Change

June 29, 2015

Larry Hamilton

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis made history in an encyclical — a papal letter that is distributed to all bishops in the Roman Catholic Church — entitled “Laudato Si,” in which he acknowledged that climate change is real. The 180-page document is the first to focus only on environmental issues. In it, the pope stated that climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” and he hopes the letter will help us recognize “the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.”

UNH Today asked some of UNH’s climate change experts about the implications of the encyclical. UNH sociology professor Larry Hamilton, who studies environmental sociology, says that Pope Francis’s words could influence people’s political views on climate change. “A lot of people who don’t have much information on climate change are not very set in their opinions,” he says, “so the pope’s statements have the potential to be influential.” However, not everyone’s opinions will change. Hamilton notes that more than 95 percent of scientists who study this topic already think that human-caused climate change is real and problematic, and the pope’s encyclical adds a moral dimension to this scientific consensus. He adds that those with “hardcore ideological views” that climate change is a hoax and conspiracy will not be swayed, but instead “will go to back to sources of information that tell them they’re still right.”

When asked about the effect the encyclical will have on the upcoming 2016 presidential election, Hamilton thinks the candidates are “not talking enough about science in general,” and that there is an “anti-science sentiment in the race.” He hopes that, regardless of whether the pope has changed people’s minds about climate change, his statements bring the conversation about climate, the environment and science back to the public’s attention.

The above post was excerpted from a piece by Madeleine Shuldman in UNH Today.

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