'The Francis Effect': How the Pope Is Changing Americans' Views on Climate Change
Researchers are calling it "The Francis Effect." Yale and George Mason University released a report, The Francis Effect: How Pope Francis changed the conversation about global warming, yesterday that found 17 percent of Americans and 35 percent of Catholics say the Pope's stance on climate change has influenced their own views on the issue.
The researchers cite the Pope's encyclical and his recent visit to the U.S. for shifting Americans' views on climate change. “Americans—and American Catholics in particular—have personally grown more concerned about the consequences of global warming since Pope Francis began speaking out forcefully on the issue,” said lead researcher Dr. Edward Maibach of George Mason University. “Many of the largest shifts of public opinion correspond closely with Pope Francis’ specific points of emphasis.”
The survey of "a nationally representative sample of American adults" was conducted in the spring before the Pope issued his encyclical, and again in the fall after the Pope made his inaugural visit to the U.S., where he spoke repeatedly about the need for climate action.
“Pope Francis' historic and powerful call for action on the climate crisis came at a critical moment, and this research shows he had an important influence," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "Momentum is building for a major international climate agreement in Paris next month, and the Pope's leadership has only added to that."
"The Sierra Club and our 2.4 million members and supporters continue to be inspired by Pope Francis’ clear call for responsible stewardship of the earth and our climate," he added.
The reports from spring to fall show:
- Americans developed a more positive view of the Pope
- Global warming became a more "salient" issue—meaning more Americans hear and talk about the topic—many Americans (17 percent) and Catholics in particular (35 percent) say the Pope has helped shape their views on global warming
- More Americans overall (+six points) and Catholics in particular (+13 points) became very or extremely sure that global warming is happening
And recent data from the Brookings Institute released earlier this week confirms the "The Francis Effect."
Our sampling of public opinion during the weeks leading up to his visit and the first days after his arrival in Washington, DC suggest that Americans generally resonate with the Pope on climate change. The latest results of the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE) from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College indicate that majorities of Americans support Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change.
Moreover, there is further evidence that the pope has had some impact in convincing Americans that global warming is real and warrants a public response. And, if anything, it appears that the Pope’s engagement on this issue has only served to bolster his own base of public support within the United States.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Monsanto, the maker of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, filed a motion June 16 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California to reconsider the chemical's addition to California's Proposition 65 list of agents known to cause cancer.
The agrochemical giant made this move based on a June 14 Reuters investigation of Dr. Aaron Blair, a lead researcher on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) committee, that classified glyphosate as a "2A probable human carcinogen" in March 2015.
By Avery Friedman
Algae is often considered a nuisance, but for Sweden, the rapidly growing sea plant is now an asset.
As the Scandinavian country works to cut all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, it's using algae to sop up the carbon emissions from cement.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."