Most TreeHugger readers are probably well aware that there are very divergent opinions among the people they know in regards to climate change. Well, a new report from Yale University attempts to categorize different opinions in the US on the matter and has found that there are really six Americas: The Alarmed, the Concerned, the Cautious, the Disengaged, the Doubtful, and the Dismissive. Here's how those break down:
The Alarmed = 18%
Those of us who are Alarmed by global warming (and if you couldn't guess, I'm solidly in this category) are very much convinced that climate change is happening, that human-activity is the prime cause of it, and that it is a serious and urgent threat. We are already making changes in our lives to minimize climate impact, and argue for strong national action to prevent climate change.
The Concerned = 33%
The largest single group in the survey, the Concerned share many of the same views as the Alarmed inasmuch as they support strong national action to prevent climate change, and clearly view it as a serious threat. However, the main distinction is that they are less personally engaged with the issue than the Alarmed and are less likely to be making personal life changes to prevent climate change.
The Cautious = 19%
Though the Cautious do believe that global warming is a problem, they are less certain that either the Concerned or the Alarmed as to the causes of it or the seriousness of the issue. In general they don't feel a sense of urgency to do anything about climate change, nor do they feel personally threatened by it.
The Disengaged = 12%
The Disengaged comprises that segment of the population with no strong view about global climate change. They haven't given much thought to the issue and don't know much about it in general. They are also the group that indicates being most willing to change their opinions about it.
The Doubtful = 11%
The views among the Doubtful are a mixed bag: Some think that global warming may be happening but that it is the result of natural cycles, that it won't happen for many years, or that we're already doing enough to prevent the worst of it; others think that it isn't happening, and others having yet been convinced that it is or isn't happening.
The Dismissive = 7%
The mirror image of the Alarmed, the Dismissive are very much engaged with the issue of climate change but believe that it is decidedly not happening, does not deserve a strong national response, and is not a threat to either humanity or the world more broadly.
But What Can I Do About Climate Change?
Though none of the groups is convinced fully that human effort will be enough at this point (or even necessary at the dismissive end of the scale...) to prevent the worst of climate change. Among all groups save the Doubtful and the Dismissive, there is the belief that if most people in the industrialized world took personal action to reduce their climate impact, global warming can be reduced a great deal.
In addition to their beliefs most broadly on global climate change and the impact of personal action in preventing it, the full report goes into great detail about the demographics of each group, how each uses media and their trust of different media segments, what sort of personal action each group is or is not taking, their views on the necessity of national action.
Download the full report: Global Warming's Six Americas 2009: An Audience Segment Analysis
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