Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?

Date:
July 16, 2014
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Political ideology and education levels affect when people search for climate information, research indicates. Republicans search the net for information about the weather, climate change and global warming during extremely hot or cold spells. Democrats Google these terms when they experience changes in the average temperatures. These are some of the surprising findings from a study that tracked how the temperature fluctuations and rainfall that Americans experience daily in their own cities make them scour the Internet in search of information about climate change and global warming.

Republicans search the Net for information about the weather, climate change and global warming during extremely hot or cold spells. Democrats google these terms when they experience changes in the average temperatures.

Related Articles


These are some of the surprising findings from a study by Corey Lang of the University of Rhode Island in the US, published in Springer's journal Climatic Change. He tracked how the temperature fluctuations and rainfall that Americans experience daily in their own cities make them scour the Internet in search of information about climate change and global warming. To do so, he used data from Google Trends, local weather stations and election results.

Google Trends aggregates all Google searches that are made, and measures how popular a specific search term is. Users can fine tune this to be specific to a particular place (such as a country or city) and time (such as monthly or on a specific date). Lang specifically checked how often, when and where citizens in 205 cities in the US used the search terms "global warming," "climate change" and "weather." The terms "drought" and "flood" were also included because increases in these natural phenomena are important predicted impacts of climate change. Monthly statistics were collected for the period from January 2004 to May 2013. Lang then matched them with local weather station data, as well as the 2008 presidential election results in Dave Leip's "Atlas of Presidential Elections."

Lang found that search activity increased when extreme heat was felt in summer, when no rain fell over extended periods, and when there were fewer extreme cold snaps in winter. Such weather fluctuations are consistent with projected climate change. Interestingly though, searches also increased when average winter and spring temperatures dropped -- events that are inconsistent with global warming. Lang believes this could mean that people who observe unusual extreme weather conditions are genuinely interested in learning more about climate change. It could, however, also mean that deniers, who experience an unusually cool winter, go online to confirm their skeptical views that the world is not really growing warmer.

People from varying political and educational backgrounds reach for their devices at different times to check out information on climate change. Republicans and people from less educated areas do more relevant searches during periods of extreme temperatures, while Democrats and residents of well-educated areas do so when they experience changes in average temperatures.

"Weather fluctuations have an impact on climate change related search behavior, however not always in ways that are consistent with the impacts of climate change. And the research suggests that different types of people experience weather differently or have different perceptions about what type of weather defines climate change, " concludes Lang.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Corey Lang. Do weather fluctuations cause people to seek information about climate change? Climatic Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1180-6

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716090757.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2014, July 16). What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716090757.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716090757.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins