Photo courtesy of Next Nature
American Climate Values Survey
Views on global warming may be more strongly politically and economically influenced than many may have hoped. The recently released results of the American Climate Values Survey, conducted earlier this year, yield some surprising revelations—and may perhaps reinforce some long held biases. But bear in mind as we parse some of the results that the very purpose of the survey was to determine how best to veer the national conversation on climate change towards apolitical territory, not to elicit head-shaking and ‘I told you so’s’ from liberal environmentalists.
The American Climate Values Survey was commissioned by a slew of prominent environmental agencies, including the Nature Conservancy, ecoAmerica, the Alliance for Climate Protection, and the NRDC. It was conducted in March and April 2008 by SRI Consulting Business Intelligence, and 1,707 people were surveyed.
The following are among the ACVS findings:
General American Climate Value Survey Findings
-73 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening
-But only 18 percent ‘strongly believe’ global warming is real, and is harmful and caused by humans
-74 percent said they want the US to be an international leader in global warming solutions
-54 percent of Republicans believe that global warming is real, while 90 percent of Democrats do
-34 percent of Republicans think global warming is ‘not a problem,’ along with 7 percent of
-90 percent agreed with this statement: “If I could afford it, I would be willing to install things to make my home more energy efficient than it is now."
-85 percent said they were interested in hybrid cars
What the Survey's Findings Might Mean
Since the survey was intended to provide a sort of a roadmap for finding ways to motivate progress and improve attitudes regarding climate change, the findings must be viewed objectively—as is apparently not the case with most Americans and their stances on climate change. Unsurprisingly, the survey confirmed climate change to be a largely politicized issue, viewed too often along party lines instead of according to factual analysis (and both parties are guilty of this, in different ways—there are plenty of liberals who proclaim their allegiance to the fight against global warming without a basic education on the issue).
But extricating the issue of climate change from the morass of politics will be an uphill battle, to say the least—environmentalism is a well worn character in the liberal narrative, as acknowledged by left and right leaners alike.
So how do these non-profits plan on elevating the discourse on global warming above Gore is a hypocrite, no, Republicans are ignorant, no, liberals are arrogant, sort of infighting? Simple (in theory). You emphasize that fact that the subject matters to everyone.
The Beginnings of a Basic Solution
Which it does—remember, most Americans said they’d do more if they could afford to. And that’s everyone, not just Democrats.
According to the release:
People also do not see climate action as personally relevant to their lives — to their health, safety and well-being. The ACVS survey found that this perceived lack of personal benefit is the result of too much focus on solving global warming for the sake of the environment alone, which is not enough to motivate all citizens.
And that’s the jump that must be made: Al Gore’s talks, many current non-profit campaigns, and evidently prevailing public attitude are all predicated on the idea that climate change will affect us. Not how it does now. Bringing extra-environmental effects of climate change to the fore—concrete public health and safety risks, a burgeoning clean energy industry that will generate jobs—these are the kind of things that should perhaps be emphasized in order to depoliticize global warming and engage it as tangible, central force in the modern era.
The full American Climate Values Survey report will be released next week.