New Study: Most Important Reason for Taking Action on Climate Change Is Our Children and Grandchildren

BY ON June 12, 2018

It’s time for a reality check. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has furnished the nation with a new report entitled, “Climate Change in the American Mind.”

The report is broken down into 7 parts and 2 appendixes. The top revelation is that 70 percent of people in the country believe that global warming is real and is occurring. The ratio stands at 5 to 1. In the past 3 years, a “certainty” about this premise has increased by 12 percent – 7 percentage points since March 2015. These results translate into 49 percent of Americans being either “extremely” or “very sure” about the reality of global warming.

Perhaps the most encouraging news is that almost one-quarter (25 percent) of Americans are motivated to be proactive in efforts to diminish global warming because they want to “provide a better life for [their] children and grandchildren.” Another 16 percent wants to “prevent the destruction of most life on the planet,” and 12 percent wants to “protect God’s creation.”

There is a lot to be optimistic about.

  • 58 percent of Americans concur that global warming is primarily driven by human causes
  • 63 percent stated that the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (10 percent), “very” (18 percent), or “somewhat” (35 percent) important to them on a personal level.
  • 15 percent of Americans understand that over 90 percent of climate scientists concur that global warming is caused by human activity.
  • 21 percent of Americans are very worried about global warming (Twice the number of people polled in March 2015), and 62 percent are “somewhat worried.”
  • 62 percent are “interested” in global warming, although only 41 percent feel “hopeful” about a resolution.
  • 61 percent think global warming is affecting the weather situation in America; 29 percent believe that weather is being affected “a lot.”

On the side of those who doubt global warming, the numbers show:

  • 14 percent of Americans (1 in 7) believe that global warming is not real.
  • 7 percent of Americans are “extremely” or “very sure” that global warming is not happening.
  • 28 percent attribute any shift in global warming to “natural” changes in the environment.
  • 37 percent of those who are not worried about global warming are divided into “not too” concerned (22 percent) or see the issue as “not at all” important personally (15 percent).

When it comes to questions about how Americans believe that they have or will be impacted, 41 percent responded that they “have personally experienced the effects of global warming.” This is a growth of 10 percentage points since March 2015.

As hurricanes, droughts, and fires have been hitting different parts of the country for years, it is not surprising that citizens are relating to extreme weather events as more than just a news story.

  • 39 percent believe people in America are being affected by global warming “right now.”
  • 58 percent believe global warming will harm Americans
  • 42 percent believe that they as individuals or their family (47 percent) will be hurt by global warming.

When it comes to a breakdown of how Americans think they will be injured from extreme weather at a local level, the causes are:

  • Extreme heat – 64 percent
  • Droughts – 61 percent
  • Flooding – 60 percent
  • Water shortages – 52 percent

Americans polled are looking at the bigger picture of climate change impact beyond the borders. They expressed concern for:

People living in developing countries (62 percent)

  • People living in poverty around the world (63 percent)
  • Future generations (71 percent)
  • Plant and animal species (71 percent)

The study also examined the social and attitudinal viewpoints of the sample group. This included how often people spoke to friends and family about global warming (65 percent discuss “rarely” or “never”). Yet 50 percent state that they have thought about global warming, with 20 percent mulling it over “a lot.”

Americans break down how they view the issue of global warming in a range of different ways:

  • Environmental (74%)
  • Scientific (68%)
  • Agricultural (62%)
  • Severe weather (61%)
  • Health (60%)
  • Political (58%)
  • Economic issue (57%).
  • Moral (41%)
  • Social justice (29%)
  • Poverty (28%)
  • National security (25%)
  • Religious issue (13%).

When it comes to solving the problem, only 6 percent of people believe that humans “can and will successfully reduce global warming.”

Where does that negativity stem from?

Almost half of all Americans believe that humans could actually reduce the threat posed by global warming, but that the requisite will to achieve the goal is missing. Approximately one in five Americans (22 percent) just don’t believe that “people are willing to change their behavior.”

The planet doesn’t have a choice, and right now, neither do our kids.

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TOPICS: Climate Change, Heat and Extreme Weather, Social Justice