How Information Worlds Shape Our Response to Climate Change (Project Information Literacy)



June 2023 — July 9, 2024


This work is coauthored with Project Information Literacy. Primary contributions include data visualization design and engineering, statistics and data analysis, report design and web development, and analysis of findings.

Drawing on a survey of more than 4,500 members of the general public and almost 1,600 college students enrolled at nine colleges and universities across the country, this latest open access publication from Project Information Literacy (PIL) asks not what people living in America know about climate change, but how they know it. In a year-long study, PIL examined the ways in which people engage with and respond to climate change news and information; how these interactions shape their perceptions of the worldwide climate emergency; and how these attitudes impact their willingness to take action, no matter how small it seems.

The findings presented in this report offer a counterpoint to the canonical narrative of resistance highlighted in the news today: Respondents in our study were indeed divided across feelings, beliefs, and attitudes, and yet overall trends point overwhelmingly in the direction of belief and concern about the climate crisis. Based on the findings, PIL identifies opportunities that better position climate change stakeholders — journalists, educators, librarians, activists, scientists, and policy analysts — wanting to encourage greater climate change engagement among a divided populace.