American Attitudes towards Climate Change
George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication has five recent and interesting reports about climate change attitudes that can be downloaded when you visit their website. They’re well worth a good look.
The reports include a January 2010 update to their Global Warming’s Six Americas research. Their press release suggests that Americans can be grouped into one of six groups depending on their attitudes towards climate change. Overall, the results show a shift among Americans from being convinced that global warming is happening and is caused by humans and is a real threat (10% from its previous 18%), to more people (16%) believing global warming is not happening and is likely a hoax.
The report suggests that part of the cause responsible for this decrease is the current economic conditions and the recent attacks on climate science. While people focus more on keeping their job or dealing with job loss, they share something in common with people in developing countries who just want to feed their family. As humanitarian and conservation workers reveal, when people get desperate enough they will carry packages across the Pakistani/Afghanistan border for dinner money, or clear the forests of animals for African bushmeat. It’s tough to care about the long term consequences of climate change when you’re worried about paying your rent or feeding your family. But it’s still important.
Some people still care about their world, even when they’re facing personal challenges. They decide to be game wardens rather than bushmeat hunters. If only we could bottle that and pass it around!
The Center’s reports also have interesting information about the people who occupy the middle ground. The “Cautious” believe global warming is a problem but not urgent and are unsure if it is human caused, has risen to 27% from 19% in 2008.
The “Disengaged” who don’t know much about global warming and may not even think about it, has decreased to 6% from 12% in 2008. The “Doubtful” who aren’t sure if global warming is happening, but believe that if it is it’s natural and not a threat, is now 13% from 11% in 2008.
Interestingly, the majority of respondents believe that developing sources of clean energy should be a priority for the US Government, and support more funding for related research. Perhaps we can solve the problems even if people don’t fully believe in them!
As well as the above report, the website also has information about how American attitudes don’t equal concerns about recycling or eating locally grown food. Then there are four other reports to read.
So check out the University’s Center for Climate Change Communication’s website and learn more about American attitudes and actions. It’s important reading.