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The Sciences

A Gender Divide On Global Warming?


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Last week in Long Beach, Ed Maibach gave a terrific talk about communicating climate change information to the public. He uses six characters to represent different levels of concern over global warming. They include (pictured left to right):


Alarmed Alice, Concerned Claudia, Cautious Connie, Unconcerned Uri, Doubtful David, and Dismissive Dan Descriptions of each level along with detailed data are available here. As of 2008, this is how they are represented in terms of total U.S. population:


Notice anything funny about these results? You bet I did. Female names are provided for 'alarmed', 'concerned', and 'cautious', while guys are 'disengaged', 'doubtful', and 'dismissive'. What the...? Now having known Ed a couple years, I suspected his choice for characters wasn't assigned by chance. Following his presentation, I asked what's going on. Turns out, the responses do shake out along gender lines. While Ed and I are with Alice, surveys show that women are more likely to take the threat of climate change seriously while men are frequently apathetic or deniers. I'm surprised, but perhaps it's because of the company I keep. Do readers have any ideas to explain what's going on?

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