Climate disinformation in Spanish impacting Latinos

BSP Research was retained to conduct a survey of eight Spanish markets across the United States, including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Los Angeles Metro, Miami Metro, and South Texas/Rio Grande Valley region. There were 200 complete surveys collected from each market with a total sample size of the survey of 1,600 respondents. Surveys were conducted in Spanish and English, according to respondents’ preference. The survey fielded from August 22 to September 3, 2022. The margin of error for the total survey is ±2.5%. Below is a summary of key findings from the survey.

1. Spanish-speaking Latinos are receptive, and expect to see action taken, to address climate change, even in the face of disinformation. Polling finds overwhelming support for climate action among Spanish-speaking Latinos across all demographics, with 81% overall who believe it is crucial or very important for the government to take action to slow or reduce the effects of climate change. In total, 83% of Spanish-speaking Latinos have a favorable view of what the Inflation Reduction Act will do, including 74% of conservative Latinos. When it is highlighted that the bill passed with unanimous Congressional Republican opposition, 58% of Latinos overall indicate they feel less favorable to Republicans in Congress.

The following description of the Inflation Reduction Act generated high approval:

Recently Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which gives Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, extends Obamacare subsidies to lower the cost of health care for millions of families, addresses climate change through policies that will reduce carbon pollution by 40% and expand the use of clean energy sources and lower energy bills, and pays for it by requiring billionaire corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. This law is estimated to reduce the federal budget deficit by over $300 billion.

2. Disinformation messages framed around job loss and higher costs are most concerning among the Spanish-speaking Latino audience.

    • The most widely circulated disinformation narrative that Spanish-speaking Latinos are aware of blames President Biden and the Democrats in Congress for the increase in gas prices (65% have heard, read, or seen), followed by a concern about job loss due to the transition away from oil and gas (60%).

      • Awareness over the job loss narrative is especially true for: Spanish-speaking Latinos in the LA metro area (70%), 30 to 49-year-olds (64%), and Latinos who indicate they often access information from Spanish-language outlets (67%).

    • The most prominent piece of disinformation that Spanish-speaking Latinos believe is that transitioning away from oil and gas will mean eliminating millions of jobs (57% mostly true or more true than false), followed by a concern over higher prices and inflation as a result of transitioning into clean energy (49%).

3. A second prominent disinformation message requiring pushback is that climate change is just a naturally occurring cycle and not manmade. Half of Spanish-speakers have both heard and believe that climate change is a naturally occurring cycle in which the earth gets hotter or colder every 11,000 years. However, 31% of Latino Spanish-speakers also believe that climate change could “more likely” be the result of manmade causes, including pollution. This segment of 1 in 3 Latinos could particularly benefit from counter-messaging.

    • This disinformation narrative is getting through to younger Spanish-speaking Latinos far more widely compared to other age groups. When asked, nearly 6 out of 10 younger Latinos have heard of this message and believe it to be true or likely true, by more than a 20-percentage point margin compared to Spanish-speaking Latinos above 30. 58% of younger Latinos have heard this message compared to 52% of 30-49-year-olds and 38% of Latinos over 50. Meanwhile 63% of young Latinos believe this to be true or likely true compared to 42% of 30-49-year-olds and 40% of Latinos over 50.

4. A third prominent climate disinformation message focuses on increasing government control. Overall, nearly half of Spanish-speakers have heard and believe that politicians use climate change policies as a way to increase government regulations and control.

    • This narrative is particularly reaching Spanish-speakers in the Los Angeles and Miami metro areas, as 64% and 56% have heard this message, respectively. Nearly 6 in 10 Spanish-speakers in Los Angeles believe this to be true, while 49% in the Miami area believe this message.

5. The most common sources of climate disinformation among Spanish-speaking Latinos differ across age groups but are primarily online, not conservativeTV channels like Fox News. When respondents were asked where they had mostly heard, read, or seen the tested disinformation statements:

    • Facebook is the most prominent source overall (46%), especially among Spanish-speaking Latinos over 30 years old (52%).

    • YouTube and other social media sites like Instagram and Tiktok ranked second overall (30%) and are more prominent among 18-29-year-olds (54%).

    • Overall, 24% said they have heard these narratives from Fox News and other conservative media channels.