A Study of American Response to Climate Change and the Influence of Carbon Dependency, Social Capital, and Political Orientation

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Carbon Dependency, Political Orientation, Public Response to Climate Change, Social Capital, Multilevel Modeling

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Climate change is one major challenge that has brought substantial costs to the United States. To implement mitigation measures and gain public support, it is critical to understand Americans’ attitudes toward this issue. Our study investigates how carbon dependency, social capital, and political orientation influence public response to climate change by perceiving its threat, changing behaviors, and supporting policies. We first build an integrative paradigm to explore the theoretical connections. Next, we employ data from different sources to measure these key concepts at individual and state levels and then estimate the relationships empirically. Multilevel regression results show that carbon dependency inhibits public response while social capital enhances such response. Democrats and liberals are motivated to respond and residents of Democratic Party controlled states are also more likely to believe in climate change and perceive the risk than their counterparts. These factors can be leveraged to mobilize public engagement in climate activism.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Society & Natural Resources, v. 36, issue 9, p. 1119-1139