UO Today with Anthony Leiserowitz

Yale researcher to discuss public views on climate change

A Yale University researcher will visit the UO to discuss the psychological, cultural and political reasons some people passionately engage with issues surrounding climate change while others are apathetic or hostile.

Anthony Leiserowitz, the founder and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and a senior research scientist at the Yale School of the Environment, will deliver the 2020-21 Kritikos lecture, “Climate Change in the American Mind,” on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. via Zoom. His talk will be the first in this year’s Oregon Humanities Center Climate Justice series. 

Americans have diverse and sometimes opposing views about climate science, fundamentally shaping the political climate of climate change. Leiserowitz will explain recent trends in Americans’ climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy support and behavior and discuss strategies to build public and political will for climate action. 

Leiserowitz is an expert on public climate change and environmental beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences and behavior, and the psychological, cultural and political factors that shape them. At Yale, Leiserowitz examines how Americans and others around the world respond to the issues of climate change and other global challenges.

The Yale climate change program looks at what people understand and misunderstand about the causes, consequences and solutions to climate change, how they perceive the risks and what kinds of policies they support or oppose.  

As he explains, Leiserowitz’s research with Yale center “suggest(s) it is possible to improve public understanding of the scientific consensus on climate change in a way that does not trigger political polarization. In particular, our findings suggest that scientists, nonprofit organizations, and policy makers should communicate the scientific consensus using short, simple declarative sentences or simple pie charts.” 

Despite the distraction of COVID-19, climate change is “not fading from people’s memories, it is not fading from their sense of importance just because other issues have arisen,” Leiserowitz said.

Leiserowitz earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental studies from the University of Oregon. He studied with Paul Slovic, professor of psychology and president of Decision Research, where Leiserowitz currently serves with Slovic. He conducts research at the global, national and local scales, including many surveys of the American public.

He conducted the first global study of public values, attitudes and behaviors regarding sustainable development and has published more than 200 scientific articles, chapters and reports.

Leiserowitz and his colleague Edward Maibach of George Mason University are winners of the 2020 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. In addition, he is the host of Climate Connections, a radio program broadcast each day on more than 600 radio stations nationwide. 

Leiserowitz’s lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is required to participate in the live Zoom event. Register at: ohc.uoregon.edu. The talk will be recorded and available for viewing on the Oregon Humanities Center’s YouTube channel. For more information contact ohc@uoregon.edu