Witnessing a neighbor install solar panels can shift one’s climate change beliefs

The policies we need to fight climate change rely on support from the public. According to a new study, one way in which people become more supportive of such policies is if they witness their neighbors putting solar panels on their roofs.

The study, which analyzed five years of survey data collected between 2010 and 2014 in Australian communities, showed that for every additional 1,000 solar panels in a neighborhood, the share of neighbors that believe human action primarily causes climate change increased by seven percentage points.

Graham Beattie, an assistant professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University, says that when people see their neighbors install solar panels, it triggers interest and may perhaps motivate them to read more on solar panels and climate change. It may also be that people just “believe their neighbors more than scientists.”

While the study focused on a solar installation in Australia, the researchers say there’s no reason why this relationship wouldn’t exist in America.

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