In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0
Surveys are commonly used to quantify public opinions of climate change and to inform sustainability policies. However, conducting large-scale population-based surveys is often a difficult task due to time and resource constraints. This paper outlines a machine learning framework-grounded in statistical learning theory and natural language processing-to augment climate change opinion surveys with social media data. The proposed framework maps social media discourse to climate opinion surveys, allowing for discerning the regionally distinct topics and themes that contribute to climate opinions. The analysis reveals significant regional variation in the emergent social media topics associated with climate opinions. Furthermore, significant correlation is identified between social media discourse and climate attitude. However, the dependencies between topic discussion and climate opinion are not always intuitive and often require augmenting the analysis with a topic's most frequent n-grams and most representative tweets to effectively interpret the relationship. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of how these results can be used in the policy framing process to quickly and effectively understand constituents' opinions on critical issues.
Bennett Jackson, Rachunok Benjamin, Flage Roger, Nateghi Roshanak