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Climate Justice Lecture: “Climate Change in the American Mind”

Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 5:00pm

Virtual Event

What are the psychological, cultural, and political reasons why some people passionately engage with issues surrounding climate change, while others are apathetic, and some are downright dismissive and hostile?

Anthony Leiserowitz, the founder and Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and a Senior Research Scientist at the Yale School of the Environment, will explore this question as he delivers the 2020-21 Kritikos lecture “Climate Change in the American Mind” on Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 5 p.m. via Zoom. His talk will be the first in the OHC’s 2020-21 Climate Justice series.

Climate change is one of the most daunting challenges of our time. Americans have diverse and sometimes opposing views about global warming, fundamentally shaping the political climate of climate change. Leiserowitz will explain recent trends in Americans’ climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy support, and behavior and discuss strategies to build public and political will for climate action.

Leiserowitz is an expert on public climate change and environmental beliefs, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior, and the psychological, cultural, and political factors that shape them. At Yale, Leiserowitz examines how Americans and others around the world respond to the issues of climate change and other global challenges. YPCCC seeks to discover what people understand and misunderstand about the causes, consequences, and solutions of climate change; how they perceive the risks; and what kinds of policies they support or oppose.

As he explains, Leiserowitz’s research with YPCCC “suggest[s] it is possible to improve public understanding of the scientific consensus on climate change in a way that does not trigger political polarization. In particular, our findings suggest that scientists, nonprofit organizations, and policy makers should communicate the scientific consensus using short, simple declarative sentences or simple pie charts. Ultimately, better communication of the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change can contribute to improved public understanding and engagement with the issue.”

According to Leiserowitz, despite the distraction of COVID-19, climate change is “not fading from people’s memories, it is not fading from their sense of importance just because other issues have arisen.”

Leiserowitz earned both his MS (1998) and PhD (2003) in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. He studied with Paul Slovic, professor of Psychology and president of Decision Research (DR), with whom he currently serves at DR. He conducts research at the global, national, and local scales, including many surveys of the American public. He conducted the first global study of public values, attitudes, and behaviors regarding sustainable development and has published more than 200 scientific articles, chapters, and reports. Leiserowitz and his colleague Edward Maibach (George Mason University) are winners of the 2020 Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication. In addition, he is the host of Climate Connections, a radio program broadcast each day on more than 600 stations nationwide.

Leiserowitz’s lecture is free and open to the public. Registration is required to participate in the live Zoom event. Register at: The talk will be recorded and available for viewing on the OHC’s YouTube channel. For more information contact

Recent Activity

Sydney Balderston

Sydney Balderston left a positive review 11/18/2020

This lecture was really fascinating. Especially since I have been using YPCC data to write my senior thesis, it was amazing to hear what the program director thinks about it and to hear about how the data was collected and everything. I have many friends and peers who would be very interested in attending more lectures that cover climate justice topics.