Does religious adherence affect views on the environment ?

In The United States, public opinion is viewed along a left-right spectrum. We expect certain beliefs to coexist, for eg: Denial of climate change, adherence to a certain faith. The objective is to test out this theory by using real world data across US counties. Is opposition to prioritizing the environment over the economy, correlated with adherence to evangelical Christianity. Geopandas and Leaflet are used to read in county boundaries as polygons and plot them on a map of the world.

Disclaimer: The objective of this analysis is not to cast adherents of any faith in a particular light but to test out commonly held notions about the coexistence of such beliefs.

There are three plots in the analysis, on a 2*2 grid. The first and third plots are intended to give a geographical visualization of the variables (percentage of respondents opposed to prioritizing the environment over the economy) and (number of adherents of evangelical Christianity per thousand residents).

The third plot is a scatter, of these two variables, with each point representing a county. From the geo plots we can see that evangelical Christianity is particularly popular in certain regions of the United States, particularly the southeast. Opposition to giving priority to the environment is however more dispersed geographically. though the southeast states show heavy opposition too. From the scatter, we can see that, though low and high rates of opposition to prioritizing the environment are found across all counties, counties with higher evangelical Christian adherents only show high rates of opposition. This is a nuance uncovered by the analysis, opposition to environmentalism comes from those with other beliefs as well, though there is scarce support for environmentalism in counties with a high rate of evangelical Christianity adherents. Note: a few counties have more than thousand adherents per 1000 residents, among other reasons this could be because of a large city situated at a county boundary, where residents of the city cross the boundary to worship.

Sources for Data:

1) County polygons, United States
https://eric.clst.org/assets/wiki/uploads/Stuff/gz_2010_us_050_00_500k.zip

2) Climate Change Opinions – Yale climate opinion maps 2018
Variable used- prienvOPP
https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/?est=happening&type=value&geo=county

3) Religiosity –  The association of religious data, archives, US Religious Census, Religious congregation and membership study 2010. Variable used: EVANRATE 
http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Downloads/RCMSCY10_DL2.asp

4) US county FIPS codes
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/home/?cid=nrcs143_013697

5) US state abbreviations – 2 digit
https://cdiac.ess-dive.lbl.gov/climate/temp/us_recordtemps/states.html

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Gowri Thampi

Data Scientist, Blogger, Amateur Cartoonist, loves Python, R, Dogs and Books :D

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