Visualizing climate change opinions

For the first time in two years, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication updated it Climate Opinion Map. Following the rhetoric of the past election and the subsequent censorship and deregulation it is an interesting look at the state of national opinion. The interactive map is a goldmine of data, based on the answers of people fro every state, county, congressional district in the country to 17 survey questions encompassing beliefs, risk perceptions, policy support, and personal behaviors.

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The graphic allows the user to look at a map either by absolute value, as displayed above, or by deviation from the national average confidence in climate change, displayed below. (A comparison of these two maps is an interesting lesson in how data visualizations based off the same data can tell different stories.)

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Right now the map is divided by counties, but change the metrics on the left and you can divide by congressional districts, hone in on metro areas, or look at the state wide portrait. You can also look at any of these factors for just one state at a time. Here is a look at just Massachusetts:

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But the best thing this visualization has to offer is that it allows you to view the country in terms of each of the 17 survey questions. Sure, 70 percent of people in the United States believe that global warming is happening, but how many people think that global warming is already causing harm? Turns out only about 53 percent.

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I could go on explaining all the cool things this graphic can do, but the best thing to do is just go around with it, you can see some pretty incredible things, both surprising and unsurprising. And best of all, it brings you outside your news bubble!

“For the first time, it’s given us a chance for us to see the incredible diversity within the country,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, told Scientific American. “It’s like a biologist being given a microscope for the first time.”

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