Does the map below look familiar?
Looking it over, you've probably noticed that urban areas are colored differently than rural ones. Or maybe you picked out that this looks a lot like margins of support for Democrats and Republicans. You might guess, then, that this is a map of partisanship by congressional district.
And it is. Sort of. Here's the full map, with header, as generated by an interactive tool from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
There's a very good reason that the map of where people accept that climate change is the result of human activity looks like the map of partisan politics: The two are strongly correlated.
Yale asked a number of questions, but we'll focus on two. First, the question above, about whether or not respondents believe that humans are responsible for the warming climate. And second, if they believe the climate is warming at all.
Here are the responses to the first question, plotted against the margin of support in the congressional district for Obama or Romney in 2012. Dots further to the left are districts that showed more support for Obama in 2012; dots higher up had a larger percentage of people saying humans are responsible for climate change.
And the second question: Whether the climate is warming.
Notice that the pattern is the same even if the percentages of the responses are not: the more strongly Democratic, the higher the level of acceptance. (For those of you who care, the correlation on the human-caused question is an r-squared of 0.77. On whether or not warming is occurring: 0.79.)
That there is a link between partisan politics and climate change beliefs is not surprising and not new. But it's worth remembering what we're looking at when we see maps like the one above. It's just red and blue America, wearing different colored clothes.