A study, The Francis Effect: How Pope Francis Changed The Conversation About Global Warming, was just released by George Mason University and Yale University, respectively. As a weather-climate scientist, I have spoken to a variety of people over the past 20 years including Congress, White House officials, civic organizations, and academic institutions. In recent years, I have noticed more invitations from faith-based organizations. I have often wondered if the Pope and faith communities are changing the discussion on the topic.
Concerning the Papal effect, study authors note that:
The report’s results draw from a unique study design of within-subject surveys of a nationally representative sample of American adults conducted in the Spring, prior to the release of the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’, and again in the Fall, after the Pope’s visit to the United States.
The primary findings are summarized in the figure below and on the authors’ website:
- More Americans say that global warming is happening (Americans: from 62% in March to 66% in October, +4 points; American Catholics: from 64% in March to 74% in October, +10 points).
- More Americans have become worried about global warming (Americans: from 51% in March to 59% in October, +8 points; American Catholics: from 53% to 64%, +11 points).
- More Americans say that the issue of global warming has become very or extremely important to them personally (Americans: from 19% to 26%, +7 points; American Catholics: from 15% to 23%, +8 points).