During unusually hot weather, people tend to accept global warming threats but they generally swing against it during cold events, says a fascinating study.
Conducted in the wake of polar vortex that hit North America last week, a new study claims that the acceptance of climate change depends on the weather on the day when people are asked about it.
"While a number of studies have looked at the relationship between daily temperature and global warming judgments or opinions, very few have explored the psychology that underlies the effect," said lead author Lisa Zaval from Columbia University.
The researchers looked at five recent studies on the effects of warm weather on climate change opinions and found evidence for something called 'attribute substitution'.
That's where a person forms his/her opinion using more readily available information - like today's temperature - rather looking at more diagnostic but less accessible information, like global climate change patterns, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
There is every reason to expect that it works the same way with cold snaps, it added.
"Our data suggest that perceiving today's local temperature to be colder than usual can lead to reduced concern about global warming," Zaval explained.
"It seems likely that 'attribute substitution' plays a role for unusually cold temperatures as well as unusually warm temperatures," Zaval added.
The researchers also found that present extreme temperatures can reinforce our memories of past similar events.
An especially hot day today can cause us to overestimate the frequency of similar past events, which can further increase our belief in global warming.
"We're going to see more extreme heat events in the future and people would learn through their experience," said geographer Peter Howe from Utah State University.
"Weather experts must add more in-depth climate information into their daily weather reports so that they disseminate long-term climate patterns to the people for a better understanding of global warming," Howe added.
--IANS (Posted on 13-01-2014)