Current Research Areas:

  • Understanding & addressing climate anxiety (with focus on Gen Z/Gen Alpha)
  • Evaluating Anti-ESG messaging campaigns & designing response tactics
  • Nexus of climate change and human health communication
  • Social media and climate misinformation/disinformation
  • Communication of climate and energy policy

Public Disapproval of Disruptive Climate Change Protests

Principle Investigators: Shawn Patterson, Jr., Michael Mann

Abstract: This study was originally published as a commentary on our website. The research evaluates public approval or disapproval of climate activism tactics. This research was sparked by an October 2022 incident where a pair of climate activists from the group “Just Stop Oil” garnered substantial international media attention when they threw tomato soup across Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery.

Link to report.

Updates: This study has been cited in several news articles and publications. Please see our News section for more information.

Understanding Climate Anxiety in Gen-Z

Principle Investigators: Michael Mann, Kate Staley

Research contact: Heather Kostick

Abstract: We are conducting this study on climate change distress and climate science communication with University of Pennsylvania students (undergraduate and graduate) between 18 and 25 years of age (members of Generation Z), in order to better understand how climate anxiety and doomism messaging are impacting young adults. This is a pilot study that will be part of a larger, interdisciplinary project examining what young people  know and understand about climate change/climate science, how they gained that knowledge, and how they feel they are impacted personally by climate change/climate change messaging.  There is limited research on this topic, but what does exist suggests that many Gen Zers (those between the ages of 18 and 25 years) feel climate change, and the messaging about it does have an impact on their sense of well-being.  We seek to understand this phenomenon better, and to explore how individuals in this age range are gaining their information about climate change. 

Updates: PCSSM was recently granted a Penn Environmental Innovation Initiatives grant that will allow us to explore additional questions related to understanding climate anxiety in young people.

Are you a Penn undergrad or grad student between the ages of 18-25? Take the online survey here!

Are Those Who Most Benefit from the IRA Aware It Exists? Guidance for Stakeholders and Policymakers

Principle Investigator: Michael Mann

Researchers: Michael Mann, Heather Kostick, Julia Pampush

Research contact: Heather Kostick

This project is made possible with a grant from the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Abstract: In the language set out by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it is clear that the act aims to address this issue in part by having subsidies for improving low-income household energy infrastructure. However, the IRA is not perfect and that there are a number of concessions that were made to appease fossil fuel interests (e.g., allowing existing oil and natural gas drilling permits to still be issued in previously untapped areas). It is well known that the fossil fuel industry has weaponized the concept of energy poverty to give allowance to the idea that fossil fuels are necessary for poor and developing nations to catch up to developed nations. While energy poverty is a real phenomenon in that there are disparities in access to energy resources and energy can be a limiting resource in some cases, the last thing a developing nation needs is fossil fuel energy when the technology is there to support the alternatives. Surveying stakeholders, particularly those that would potentially benefit from IRA subsidies, this work focuses on the Philadelphia area but looks to other cities for examples where IRA subsidies are being used or are planned to be used to address energy poverty issues. 

For the latest updates on this project, click here

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For more on the Mann Research Group which is engaged in research and scholarship on climate variability and extremes, paleoclimate, tropical cyclones, and climate education and policy, please go to the Mann Research Group site.