Politics, climate change, and earthquakes : Public perceptions of oil and gas impacts in Oklahoma

Research demonstrates that opinions about global warming and induced seismicity, earthquakes caused by human activity, are influenced by political party affiliation and ideology more than by education. Republicans and conservatives typically express less concern about environmental issues. One mechanism for how these factors shape opinion is through elite cues, wherein the prominent cultural, economic, and political voices associated with the major U.S. political parties provide guideposts that laypeople may use to form their opinions, particularly for complex social issues. Using two waves (n = 2586 and n = 2581) from a statewide survey in Oklahoma (USA), we explore the effects of political party affiliation, ideology, and education on residents’ opinions about the causes of and risk associated with these phenomena using Ordinary Least Squares and binary logistic regression equations. We examine whether these factors have a larger impact on opinions about global warming or induced seismicity using seemingly unrelated regression for the OLS equations and seemingly unrelated estimation for the binary logistic equations. These methods allow a global warming model to be estimated simultaneously with an earthquake model using the same independent variables. Consistent with other research, we found strong evidence that Republicans and conservatives perceive less risk from global warming and earthquakes than Democrats and liberals. However, the moderating effect of education on these environmental beliefs was not significant. The effects of political party affiliation and ideology were stronger for the opinions about global warming, which we hypothesize may be explained by the concept of psychological distance. This is an area for further research.

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Benjamin J. Gray ; , Michael A. Long ; Duane A. Gill ; Riley E. Dunlap ; Adam M. Straub | 2019
In: Energy Research & Social Science ; ISSN : 2214-6296 | 58 | december | 101251
Earthquakes, Environmental Disasters, Public Opinion