INDIANA – Yale University recently conducted a study about climate opinions across the country, surveying roughly 30,000 Americans. Yale Climate Opinion Maps (YCOM) used data through fall 2021 based on the public’s opinion about global warming asking questions about impacts, policies, and risks to humans. Yale scientists then developed a geographic and statistical model to downscale national public opinion results to the state, congressional district, and county levels. Let’s dive into this study.

Global warming vs climate change

The first question in this study is,” Is global warming happening?”. Jennifer Marlin, a senior research scientist at the Yale School of Environment, was on the team of scientists for this study and says they use the term global warming because it has been used for over a decade now.

“A lot of people think of global warming and climate change as virtually the same thing. But, we use the term global warming because we’ve been asking these questions for 13 years. And in order to be able to look at changes over time and to make comparisons, we can’t change the wording because the wording is very important for how people respond to the question.”

Jennifer Marlin, Yale School of Environment

The survey continues with questions about human impact, risk perceptions, policy support, how to discuss global warming, etc.

National results and findings

Nationally, 72% of adults in the United States believe global warming is happening. However, only 47% believe global warming will harm them personally. Marlin says this is one of the biggest findings in this study.

“One of our biggest findings is that most people are quite worried about this problem. We don’t talk about it a lot because it’s not related to our everyday lives. In many cases, the weather seems fine outside. It’s going to be a nice weekend, but people know in the back of their mind that we are not used to seeing so many wildfires out west. The droughts in the southwest and the water shortages that are making the national news more frequently are really unnerving to most people.”

Jennifer Marlin, Yale School of Environment

How did Indiana compare to the national results?

65% of Hoosiers believe global warming is happening. 50% of Hoosiers believe it is caused mostly by human activities. 57% of Hoosiers are worried about global warming. 65% of Hoosiers believe it will harm plants and animals, 64% believe it will harm future generations and only 40% believe it will harm them personally.

72% of Hoosiers believe schools should teach about global warming. However, only 30% say they discuss global warming. One of the last questions asked in the survey was, “Who should do more about global warming?”. 65% of Hoosiers feel corporations should do more, and 60% believe citizens should do more. 53% believe the Governor should do more about global warming.

Marlin says something people can take away from this survey it’s that opinions are diverse, start a conversation, and learn more about the topic of global warming.