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Infographic – U.S. Public Split on Geoengineering

Geoengineering opinions

(Pew Research Center)

12 June 2021. As climate change forecasts become increasingly dire, so are calls increasing to consider measures that directly alter climatic conditions, called geoengineering or hacking the planet. A recent survey by Pew Research Center shows the U.S. public is divided on pursuing steps like cloud seeding or solar geoengineering that spreads reflective particles in the atmosphere to disperse direct sunlight.

Policy makers are cautiously exploring these geoengineering steps. Cloud seeding projects that distribute in the atmosphere silver iodide particles simulating ice are already underway in chronic drought-ridden Western states. And a report in March from the National Academies recommends at least considering geoengineering to deal with climate change.

Public opinion appears to reflect this cautionary approach. About half (50%) of the U.S. public believes cloud seeding can make a difference in affecting climate change, barely more than the 45 percent who feel cloud seeding will not make a difference. For solar geoengineering, more than half in the U.S. (53%) believes it can make a difference in addressing climate change, while about four in 10 (41%) feel it can help deal with climate change.

Majorities of older Americans, those born in 1946 or before, are most willing to believe these geoengineering steps can make a difference in climate change, while similar majorities of Generation Z Americans, born in 1996 or before, feel these measures will not make a difference. And political party also affects views on geoengineering. Solid majorities of Republicans feel geoengineering can make a difference with climate change, while similar majorities of Democrats are skeptical of geoengineering.

Pew Research Center polled online 13,749 adults representative of the U.S. population taking part in the center’s American Trends Panel. The sample includes an oversample of Gen Z adults from the Ipsos Knowledge Panel. The survey took place 20 to 29 April 2021.

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