The Social Bases of Climate Change Knowledge, Concern, and Policy Support in the U.S. General Public

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For the past two decades, the issue of climate change has been thoroughly politicized in the United States. By the early 1990s, the U.S environmental community—the environmental movement, sympathetic climate scientists, and environmental policy-makers—successfully defined anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming as a legitimate social problem deserving of federal policy action. At the same time, a coordinated anti-environmental countermovement mobilized in the United States to challenge the legitimacy of climate change as a problem on which society should act. This response included both significant lobbying by the American fossil fuels industry and concerted actions by American conservative think tanks to question the necessity of dealing with climate change. “Integral to these efforts has been the promotion of approximately a dozen scientists collectively known as climate change ‘contrarians’ (or sometimes ‘skeptics’).”

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