A majority of Americans favor replacing oil with clean energy

A slim majority (53%) of Americans now have a negative impression of oil companies. The February/March 2019 survey also found Americans are more likely to see oil as domestically available than in prior years, though 60% (up from 45% in 2016) now believe that to improve energy and national security we should reduce demand for oil, compared to 35% who say we should increase production.

While a clear majority (64%) still favor the US replacing oil with cleaner fuels, that support is less intense than in previous years, and just 31% of respondents believe we will replace oil with cleaner fuels for most transportation in the coming decades, down from 43% in 2017 and 41% in 2015.

Morning Consult/Politico 04/17/19

67% of voters think it is important for Congress to commit to generating 100 percent of U.S. power needs with ‘clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources’ over the next 10 years — including 54% of Republicans. 62% think it is important for Congress to ‘set a deadline for net-zero U.S. carbon emissions’ and 56% think it is important they ‘set a date by which the U.S. phases out production and use of oil, gas, and coal.’ 

While 69% of Democrats said they ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ support their party’s Green New Deal and 29% said they support Republicans’ Green Real Deal. Likewise, 47% of Republicans back the Green Real Deal and 25% support the Green New Deal. 

However, energy is not the top issue for most voters, and competes with a number of other issues. Of the seven issue areas proposed, only 6% of respondents ranked “Energy Issues – like carbon emissions, cost of electricity/gasoline, or renewables” as their top issue. Economic issues – taxes, wages, jobs, unemployment and spending – were again at the top, with security issues coming in a relatively close second.

Further, despite public support for some of the policies in the climate resolutions, faith in Congress to act on climate change is mostly down or unchanged from a year ago. 36% of voters said they have less confidence in Congress to take action on the matter than a year prior, while 37% have the same amount. 14% of voters said they have greater confidence now.

Write-up here.

Systems Thinking As A Pathway To Global Warming Beliefs And Attitudes Through An Ecological Worldview, by M. Ballew, M. Goldberg, S. Rosenthal, A. Gustafson, And A. Leiserowitz, Yale University.

Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 04/08/19

An individual’s tendency to view the world as interconnected and dynamic (systems thinking) is associated with an ecological worldview that values nature, which in turn is associated with positive attitudes and beliefs about climate change. This research tested whether systems thinking is associated with positive attitudes and beliefs about climate change, and found that it is, indirectly, because an ecological worldview (often associated with systems thinking) accounts for positive climate attitudes and beliefs. Further, the relationship between systems thinking (and an ecological worldview) and global warming beliefs and attitudes was stronger for conservatives and Republicans than for liberals and Democrats.

The challenges associated with environmental protection today are multifaceted and affected by many interacting factors. The challenges operate on various, often large, spatial scales, unfold on long tem- poral scales, and usually have global implications (for example, car- bon dynamics, nutrient cycles, and ocean acidification). Dealing with these problems will require systems thinking and integrated multi- disciplinary science. –US National Research Council (ref. 1, p. 13)

Systems thinking refers to a “cognitive paradigm that involves an implicit tendency to recognize various phenomena as a set of interconnected components that interact with one another to make a dynamic whole” (2). It involves the understanding that the social, economic, and natural worlds are part of an inter- connected system that is constantly changing, and that humans, including oneself, are members of this dynamic system (3).

In the environmental domain, systems thinking is viewed as fundamental to understanding and addressing environmental problems such as climate change. In 2012, the US National Research Council urged the Environmental Protection Agency to apply a systems thinking approach, rather than a traditional “siloed, disciplinary” approach (ref. 1, p. 36), to understanding environmental issues.

Systems thinking is also gaining attention in educational settings. At this time, the US K-12 Next Generation Science Standards emphasizes “crosscutting concepts” as one of the core dimensions of scientific learning including topics on system models, patterns, and stability and change (4–6).

Although systems thinking is often emphasized as central to learning about and understanding climate science and other environmental issues (e.g., natural resource management) (7), research on the effects of systems thinking as a cognitive framework or ability is nascent.

For example, prior research suggests that systems thinking is associated with pro-environmental tendencies including connectedness to the natural world, environmental behavior, perceptions that climate change is a serious threat, and support for climate policies such as energy taxes (3, 8, 9). One recent study found that systems thinking was more strongly linked to an ecological worldview (i.e., the New Ecological Paradigm) (10) than were other measures of environmental attitudes; specifically, connectedness to nature and biospheric environmental concern (3). It is perhaps not surprising the two are strongly correlated: systems thinking is a cognitive paradigm of viewing the world as a set of interconnected parts and processes (2), and the New Ecological Paradigm refers to an ecological worldview or value system that humans are part of the natural world, with strong responsibilities to protect it for both humans and nonhuman species (10). Indeed, one of the central themes of the New Ecological Paradigm emphasizes the interrelation between humans and the environment; specifically, “beliefs about humanity’s ability to upset the balance of nature” (ref. 10, p. 427).

Given that systems thinking is increasingly viewed as central to understanding climate science, but empirical research on its effects is limited, it is important to assess the predictive strength of systems thinking in explaining climate change beliefs and attitudes, and to do so in relation to a conceptually similar construct, the New Ecological Paradigm, a widely used measure of a proenvironmental orientation (11). Understanding the unique predictive strength of systems thinking on views about climate change has practical implications for climate change education and communication, in addition to theory development. Thus, we hypothesize that systems thinking predicts global warming beliefs and attitudes, and uniquely predicts views independent of an ecological worldview or value system. Specifically, we focus on the relation of systems thinking and the New Ecological Paradigm to the following: belief that global warming is happening and human-caused, worry about global warming, perceptions that it is a serious threat, issue importance, and knowledge of the scientific consensus about human-caused global warming.

It is also plausible that an ecological worldview mediates, at least in part, the relationship between systems thinking and global warming beliefs and attitudes. Several theoretical perspectives on systems thinking support this process; for example, “that an ecological worldview emerges from an awareness of the interdependencies all biological life forms share” (ref. 3, p. 578). More recent research also suggests that systems thinking may activate a tendency to “value, care for and feel connected to entities that extend distally beyond the self” (ref. 12, p. 224), supporting other perspectives and previous research (8, 9, 13). Further, by definition, systems thinking refers to a general cognitive paradigm of viewing phenomena as interconnected and dynamic; it is not limited to the environmental domain, but includes other systems such as society and the economy (2, 3). On the basis of these theoretical perspectives, systems thinking may facilitate proenvironmental values that then shape more specific beliefs and attitudes about climate change. However, given the limited research on the effects of systems thinking, we also test the alternative explanation that a general proenvironmental orientation activates systems thinking, which then influences views about climate change. Understanding this distinction can help educators and science communicators develop strategies targeting systems thinking and help researchers and scholars better understand the psychological processes involved in systems thinking and public understanding of climate change.

We also explore whether relationships between systems thinking, worldview, and beliefs and attitudes vary by political ideology and/ or party affiliation. Because climate change is a deeply politicized issue (14, 15), approaches are needed that encourage the adoption of views aligned with climate science across political lines. Prior research has found that compared with conservatives, liberals have more openness to complexity and more tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty (16, 17). Systems thinking has also been found to correlate with a liberal political ideology (8). Although we expect that systems thinking positively correlates with proclimate views across the political spectrum, we also predict that there will be stronger relationships between systems thinking and an ecological worldview, as well as global warming beliefs and attitudes, for liberals and Democrats relative to conservatives and Republicans, respectively. Understanding these relationships will provide insight on the extent to which promoting systems thinking in education and communication can help close political gaps in climate opinion.


Systems thinking is recognized as vital to understanding climate science and addressing climate change. Understanding how systems thinking influences the public’s beliefs and atti- tudes about climate change has important implications for climate change education and communication. Our findings indicate that across the political spectrum, systems thinking may facilitate an ecological ethic or value system that humans should preserve and protect the natural world rather than exploit it. This, in turn, may strengthen proclimate views and understanding of climate change (e.g., that global warming is happening, is human-caused, etc.). The findings contribute to systems thinking theory and indicate the importance of promoting systems thinking to support proclimate science beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors across political lines.

Correlation analyses found that, as predicted, systems thinking was positively related to beliefs that global warming is happening and human-caused, worry about and perception of risk from global warming, issue importance, and knowledge of scientific consensus (rs ranged from 0.169 to 0.311; P < 0.001); Table 1). Systems thinking was also strongly related to an ecological worldview (r = 0.545; P < 0.001), consistent with previous re- search (3). The relationships between ecological worldview and global warming beliefs and attitudes were also generally strong (rs ranged from 0.378 to 0.539; P < 0.001). Next, multiple re- gression models assessed the extent to which systems thinking