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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New research out this week on climate-change polling and an interview with a Republican lawmaker have underscored the importance of words when it comes to such a complicated and divisive topic.

What they found: Researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center say the proportion of Americans who think climate change is driven by human activity ranges from 50%–71%, all simply based on how you ask the question.

Meanwhile: Rep. Tom Reed says the key to engaging his fellow Republicans on climate change is to use less divisive — and at times less specific — language.

Why it matters: While unconnected, these two bits of news show that words have an outsized impact in influencing people’s understanding of the issue and their willingness to engage on it.

Details: The research found questions that don’t allow a "I don’t know" answer could inflate the level of acceptance, forcing people to pick an option that may not represent their positions.

  • Questions that ask respondents whether they agree with a statement may also inflate acceptance levels because people may feel compelled to agree — even if they don’t.

What we’re hearing:

"There’s this whole debate of human contribution, and we spend hours — or even the precious minutes members [of Congress] have with each other — talking about that as opposed to: Can we agree that the weather is changing, the climate is changing, and can we agree we should use smart policies to promote resiliency?"
— Rep. Tom Reed

Go deeper: An energy and climate glossary for Trump (and everyone)

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
36 mins ago - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

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