More Americans Care About Climate, But Not Enough

It would be nice to think that the environment and climate change were front of mind affecting how people vote today; too bad it is probably not. A previous poll we covered noted that while most Americans believe climate change is happening, they really don't care. This new study of 11,000 Americans comes up with a different result. But not much.

The "Center of Excellence in Climate Change Communication Research (CECCCR)" study found that only 62% of Americans considered global warming a serious danger, and even those who are worried about it aren't doing a whole lot about it. But the study raised some other questions that made us wonder about it.

USA today quotes Edward Maibach, senior author of the survey: "Clearly, there's a lot left to do in raising awareness," but then he continues to note that here is growing concern among behavior experts that "there has been too much fear-mongering and not enough emphasis on what people can do."

In the study, they say "Some commentators have questioned the wisdom of using "fear appeals" in communication about climate change. Their concern is that the media (and advocacy groups) have placed too much focus on the dangers of global warming and not enough focus on conveying hope and solutions."

The study also looks at the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and finds a big gulf in answers,

But also noted that Democrats are hypocrites- "While Democrats were performing more of the environmental actions, on average they were only performing less than one more behavior than Republicans (see Table 6). The only environmental activities that Democrats were much more likely to engage in were voting for candidates based on their environmental records and donating to environmental organizations — actions that were fairly unusual in the population, even among Democrats. On other more common activities, such as conserving energy at home and recycling, the political groups were indistinguishable."

Interestingly, they surveyed a thousand kids and found that they were far more concerned about the environment than their parents.

"Given the strong affection children demonstrate for animals, and the widespread media images of drowning polar bears, we think it likely that influence is flowing in both directions: children arousing their parents' concern and action, as well as the reverse. It is, after all, a world these children will inherit. Their high level of concern, and their confidence that global warming can be successfully addressed, pose a challenge and a responsibility that we adults must accept and assume." Read Report here

Is the survey trustworthy? It was prepared by the Center of Excellence in Climate Change Communication Research (CECCCR), "the nation's first research center devoted exclusively to addressing the communication challenges associated with global climate change"

which happens to be at George Mason University, home of over 40 right wing think tanks. Good old S. Robert Lichter of the Center for Media and Public Affairs is on the advisory board; he also is President of Stats, which we have called a front designed to confuse the public about science, operated by an extremist conservative "think tank."

So I am less disheartened by a study that suggests that the press is fear-mongering, that democrats are hypocrites or that kids are being brainwashed with polar bear pictures. I just look at the source and write off the whole thing. ::USA Today