In January 2014, we conducted a nationally representative experimental study and found that the terms global warming and climate change often mean different things to Americans. The two terms activate different sets of beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, as well as different degrees of urgency about the need to respond. We found that the term global warming is associated with greater public understanding, emotional engagement, and support for personal and national action than the term climate change.
For example, the term global warming is associated with greater certainty that the phenomenon is happening, and greater understanding that human activities are the primary cause among Independents. The term is also associated with greater understanding that there is a scientific consensus about the reality of the phenomenon among Independents and liberals.