Heat Waves, Droughts, and Preferences for Environmental Policy


  • Ann L. Owen,

  • Emily Conover,

  • Julio Videras,

  • Stephen Wu


Using data from a new household survey on environmental attitudes, behaviors, and policy preferences, we find that current weather conditions affect preferences for environmental regulation. Individuals who have recently experienced extreme weather (heat waves or droughts) are more likely to support laws to protect the environment. We find evidence that the channel through which weather conditions affect policy preference is via perceptions of the importance of the issue of global warming. Furthermore, environmentalists and individuals who consult more sources of news are less likely to have their attitudes toward global warming changed by current weather conditions. These findings suggest that communication and education emphasizing consequences of climate change salient to the individual's circumstances may be the most effective in changing attitudes of those least likely to support proenvironment policy. In addition, the timing of policy introduction could influence its success.