Communicating with Global Warming's Six Americas: Strategies for Building Public Understanding and Issue Engagement

Connie Roser-Renouf
Posted on: 12/06/2013 - Updated on: 2/12/2019

Posted by

Rachel Gregg



Despite the overwhelming agreement among scientists that climate change is real, dangerous, and caused by human activities, it remains a politically polarized issue among Americans, viewed from multiple perspectives. To build public understanding and issue engagement, climate change communicators must recognize and respond to these varied points-of-view; messages are unlikely to be effective if the population is treated as a homogeneous mass, ignoring the diversity of opinion.

Public opinion research has identified six climate change audiences within the U.S. – Global Warming’s Six Americas – that fall along a continuum of belief and concern, ranging from the Alarmed, who are convinced of the reality, dangers and anthropogenic causes of climate change, to the Dismissive, who are convinced climate change is not occurring and are likely to believe it a hoax. Between these two extremes lie four groups comprising 70 percent of the population, and characterized by varying levels of uncertainty about the reality and dangers of climate change: The Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged and Doubtful.

Differences among the Six Americas in issue engagement, beliefs, and willingness to process climate information will be described in this talk, and strategies to reach and influence them will be discussed in light of their informational needs.


Document Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy