Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Oldendick


Most issues of hyper partisanship, such as health care, yield a strong constituency for action on the issue; the low salience of climate change, however, has failed to produce much change. In order to understand public opinion on climate change, this research draws not only on previous studies in political science, but also from psychology, sociology, communication studies, and other disciplines to provide a more comprehensive theoretical background. This dissertation emphasizes the need for more exploration in the field of political science and attempts to bridge some of the existing gaps. Findings from research such as this identify the opportunities in which support for policy change can be created at various levels of government. Policy makers can overcome the hyper partisan and low salience nature of this issue if they can successfully link climate change to extreme weather events and warming trends as the public signals for policy change as a result of such events. The public makes judgements about policy which change as real-world conditions change. This dissertation examines the role of party differences on support for government spending on the environment, identifies changes in [more liberal] opinions once a natural disaster strikes, and explores the effects of local warming conditions on beliefs about global warming.