Pew: Evangelicals Little Different from Rest of Public on Climate Change
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Just how important is it to engage religious audiences on climate change? As a newly released Pew analysis indicates (above) there is not much variation in climate perceptions across religious affiliation. Most notably, among Evangelicals, a plurality or 34% believe that global warming is happening and is due to human activities. Moreover, the gap between Evangelicals and the religiously unaffiliated on acceptance of human-induced global warming is only roughly 20%.
Considering that the gap on the same question between college educated Republicans and college educated Democrats is a striking 50%, these poll results show a relative common concern across religious groups on climate change. In fact, the slight difference between Evangelicals and other religious groups on perceptions of climate change is more likely to be because of the confounding influence of partisan identity rather than specific religious identity.
As scientists such as EO Wilson and Eric Chivian have argued, engaging with Evangelicals on global warming is central to collective action on the problem and these survey results provide support for this view. For more, see the recent article I published at the journal Environment.