The Weather Outside Today Affects Your Stance On Climate Change

Unseasonably warm? Global warming! Unseasonably cold? No global warming!

Republicans and Democrats stick with their (polarized) attitudes on climate change, more or less. It’s the independent voters who are more easily swayed. So easily, in fact, that an unseasonably warm or cold day is enough to change some opinions.

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire correlated meteorological data with 5,000 random-sample telephone interviews. Respondents were asked whether they a) thought climate change was real and caused by humans or b) was either not happening at all or wasn’t caused by humans. If the day before or day of the interview was unseasonably warm or cold, the respondents’ overall attitude about climate change, well, changed. When it was warm, the interviewees were more likely to believe in anthropogenic climate change. When it was cold, they weren’t.

But it wasn’t the Democrats or Republicans who were swinging the data: it was the independents. And their opinions changed quite a bit. On the coldest days, less than 40 percent of independents surveyed recognized climate change. On the warmest days, that number jumped to more than 70 percent.

The interviews were only conducted within New Hampshire, so it might technically be more accurate to say New Hampshire independents change their opinions about climate change based on the weather. But the researchers point out that the state’s demographics are pretty similar to nationwide ones. There might be other factors contributing besides the weather, too, but researchers did correct for factors like education, age, and sex.

Maybe we can start scheduling elections for the mildest days, just to keep the playing field even.