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Do weather fluctuations cause people to seek information about climate change?


  • Corey Lang



Learning about the causes and consequences of climate change can be an important avenue for supporting mitigation policy and efficient adaptation. This paper uses internet search activity data, a distinctly revealed preference approach, to examine if local weather fluctuations cause people to seek information about climate change. The results suggest that weather fluctuations do have an effect on climate change related search behavior, however not always in ways that are consistent with the projected impacts of climate change. While search activity increases with extreme heat in summer and extended periods of no rainfall and declines in extreme cold in winter, search activity also increases with colder winter and spring average temperatures. Some of the surprising results are magnified when heterogeneity by political ideology and educational attainment in responsiveness is modeled, which could suggest that different people have different perceptions about what types of weather define climate change or that climate science deniers seek information through Google. However, the results also indicate that for all groups in the political and educational spectrum, there exist weather events consistent with the predicted impacts of climate change that elicit increased information seeking. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Corey Lang, 2014. "Do weather fluctuations cause people to seek information about climate change?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 291-303, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:125:y:2014:i:3:p:291-303
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1180-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobsen, Grant D., 2011. "The Al Gore effect: An Inconvenient Truth and voluntary carbon offsets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 67-78, January.
    2. Hyunyoung Choi & Hal Varian, 2012. "Predicting the Present with Google Trends," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(s1), pages 2-9, June.
    3. Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Jonathan Guryan, 2009. "Climate Change and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 211-217, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Konisky & Llewelyn Hughes & Charles H. Kaylor, 2016. "Extreme weather events and climate change concern," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 134(4), pages 533-547, February.
    2. Matthew R. Sisco & Valentina Bosetti & Elke U. Weber, 2017. "When do extreme weather events generate attention to climate change?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 227-241, July.
    3. Stephanie Shepard & Hilary Boudet & Chad M. Zanocco & Lori A. Cramer & Bryan Tilt, 2018. "Community climate change beliefs, awareness, and actions in the wake of the September 2013 flooding in Boulder County, Colorado," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 8(3), pages 312-325, September.
    4. Daniel Osberghaus & Christina Demski, 2019. "The causal effect of flood experience on climate engagement: evidence from search requests for green electricity," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 191-207, September.
    5. David Konisky & Llewelyn Hughes & Charles Kaylor, 2016. "Extreme weather events and climate change concern," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 134(4), pages 533-547, February.
    6. Lang, Corey & Opaluch, James J. & Sfinarolakis, George, 2014. "The windy city: Property value impacts of wind turbines in an urban setting," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 413-421.
    7. Carr-Harris, Andrew & Lang, Corey, 2019. "Sustainability and tourism: the effect of the United States’ first offshore wind farm on the vacation rental market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 51-67.
    8. Sifan Hu & Jin Chen, 2016. "Place-based inter-generational communication on local climate improves adolescents’ perceptions and willingness to mitigate climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 425-438, October.
    9. Chad Zanocco & Hilary Boudet & Roberta Nilson & Hannah Satein & Hannah Whitley & June Flora, 2018. "Place, proximity, and perceived harm: extreme weather events and views about climate change," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 349-365, August.
    10. Nick Obradovich, 2017. "Climate change may speed democratic turnover," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 140(2), pages 135-147, January.
    11. Fidel Gonzalez, 2018. "Pollution Control with Time-Varying Model Mistrust of the Stock Dynamics," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 51(3), pages 541-569, March.
    12. Carla L. Archibald & Nathalie Butt, 2018. "Using Google search data to inform global climate change adaptation policy," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 447-456, October.
    13. Corey Lang & John David Ryder, 2016. "The effect of tropical cyclones on climate change engagement," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 625-638, April.

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