Monday, June 15, 2009

Americans' Six Views on Climate Change

Yale University and George Mason University recently released a study of 2,129 Americans ("Global Warming's Six Americas 2009") that categorizes the country's view on climate change into six categories:
  1. The Alarmed (about 18% of the population): Fully convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change and are already taking individual, consumer, and political action to address it.
  2. The Concerned (33% and the largest group): Also convinced that global warming is happening and a serious problem, but have not yet engaged in the issue personally.
  3. The Cautious (19%): Global warming is indeed a problem, but are unsure whether the problem merits immediate attention, or whether it is as widespread as stated. They don't see it as a personal threat at all.
  4. The Disengaged (12%): Do not know too much about the issue and have never taken any kind of interest in it. Relatively oblivious to the debate.
  5. The Doubtful (11%): Not exactly sure that global warming is happening, but if it is, it certainly isn't caused by humans (i.e. it is a natural occurrence).
  6. The Dismissive (7%): Very sure climate change is not happening and are actively involved as opponents of a national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Interestingly but not surprisingly, these groups tend to behave in similar ways when climate change solutions are presented that also have personal financial benefits. For example, all categories of those surveyed support actions that save them money; the Dismissive group is just as likely to make energy efficiency improvements on their home as the Alarmed group. All six groups also support rebates for the purchase of energy technologies like solar panels and fuel-efficient cars.

These past few years have seen the pragmatic environmental community get more sophisticated in its messaging of climate change solutions, and this study supports those efforts to move away from "sky is falling" rhetoric and more towards commonsense actions and policies that are beneficial to the planet, the economy and people's wallets.

via Softpedia, Yale University and Global Warming's Six Americas 2009


Joost Hoogstrate said...

Hi Maria, it’s nice to know what other Americans think and feel about this issue. It is new to me that there are six distinct groups although also reveals problems like this. But it’s also pathetic to note that only 18% are actively doing something to effect a change in this scenario. It is hard to understand what keeps the others uninterested or not motivated. In this information age, ignorance is definitely not the factor. I guess it’s just how some people are.

Let’s hope for the best.
Joost Hoogstrate

JR said...

At first I thought this was a study on the global warming issue but reading further it is just a P.R. study on how to broach the topic to different groups of people. No solutions, just hype. Just think how many trees (CO2 scrubbers) could have been planted for the cost of this study....

Maria Surma Manka said...

JR - Studies like this are absolutely important to climate change solutions: we need to move people to action. Government, business, and NGOs have to understand where people are coming from - whether they're educated or motivated - in order to get the public's support behind particular solutions or to make personal changes to their lives.