Americans support action on global warming despite economic crisis

Celsias jpeg
A survey recently released by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities provided some very interesting data.  The impression left by the survey is that a large majority of Americans would support some action on climate but are still confused by how they can best make a difference and are unlikely to support a national cap-and-trade system.  These are the areas where we need to start communicating more effectively to the public.

According to the survey:

  • 90%+ of Americans think that the US should act to reduce global warming.
  • 34% think the US should make a large-scale effort, even if it has large economic costs.
  • Only 11% strongly support a national cap-and-trade system.

Posted Mar. 19, 2009

By Jim Hoggan, celsias

A new research report out today details the fact that, despite the
global economic meltdown, over 90 percent of Americans agree that the
U.S. should act rapidly to combat global warming, including 34 percent
who feel the U.S. should make a large-scale effort even if it costs a
lot of money.

Americans overwhelmingly support calls for a comprehensive set of
climate change and energy policies, including funding for research on
renewable energy (92%); tax rebates for people buying fuel-efficient
vehicles or solar panels (85%); and regulation of carbon dioxide as a
pollutant (80%).

The study [PDF], entitled "Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans' Climate Change Beliefs, Attitudes, Policy Preferences, and Actions,"  was
conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change and the George Mason
University Center for Climate Change Communication – both of which are
objective professional groups known for their cautious approach to
opinion research.  The study authors surveyed over 2,000 Americans last
fall to extrapolate the nationwide figures. 

Highlighting the increasingly powerful role of consumer activism in
pressuring companies to take bold steps forward, the researchers found
that roughly half of Americans are willing to reward or punish
companies for their climate change-related activities. However,
two-thirds of those consumers surveyed said they did not know which
companies to target, posing a barrier to effective consumer advocacy
campaigns.

Despite the majority opinion that consumer advocacy is needed to
help solve this crisis, the public “remains relatively disorganized” in
how it advocates for change, the report says.

While the majority of Americans now understand that global warming
is real, human-caused, already upon us and posing an increasingly
serious threat to our economy and the environment, there is much work
left to be done to educate the public on how to affect real change in
the status quo.

The report concludes that “[t]he success or failure of climate
change action in the United States will depend, in no small part, on
the ability of leaders, organizations, and institutions at all levels
of society to effectively educate, organize, and mobilize the American
public.”

That’s a role that we here at DeSmogBlog understand first-hand. 
Given the continued attention paid to global warming deniers in media
coverage, there is much work still to be done.  But surveys like these
show repeatedly that the public gets it and is gaining clarity on how
to act, slowly but surely.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from:
http://envirocenter.research.yale.edu/uploads/climatechange-report2.pdf

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