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)

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Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.