Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs. / This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. — Pope Francis, from sections 1-2 of Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”)
You get where the Pope is going with his May 24, 2015, encyclical letter right off the bat: God created this beautiful, bountiful planet and made humans its stewards, a job we’ve completely mucked up. Now that news reporters and commentators have exhausted the topic, let’s move on to what we, the people, think. For that, there are the Yale Climate Opinion Maps, which allow users to pinpoint citizen attitudes all the way down to the county level.
Take Clark County, for example. Sixty-seven percent of adults here think global warming is happening, compared with 64 percent statewide and 63 percent nationwide. More than half believe it’s caused mostly by human activity, while 30 percent think it’s due to natural changes. And asked whether most scientists think global warming is happening, 42 percent of adults in Clark County said “yes,” while 32 percent said “no.” The numbers in Congressional District 3 break down along very similar lines.
In an article for the Scholars Strategy Network, researchers working on the map project said they wanted a way to measure specific populations’ opinions on climate change and link them to public representatives and policies. They took 13,000 survey responses collected by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication, and subjected the responses to a method called “multilevel regression and poststratification,” which allows statisticians to downscale national data to local snapshots. The team did their own polls in several sample areas and found that it backed up the downscaled national data.
You can check out the numbers for yourself, as well as the attitudes of your fellow Southern Nevadans, Nevadans and Americans using the interactive map tool. Among the other trivia there, you’ll find that the state with the highest percentage of global warming believers is — wait for it — Hawaii.