A new survey by the Yale Program shows that most Americans believe global warming is real, but don’t believe it will affect them.
Not so long ago, global warming was commonly written off as a conspiracy propagated by radical environmentalists. The 2016 nationwide survey by the Yale Program shows the majority of Americans are convinced that climate change is real… but happening somewhere else, to someone else, at some other time.
A strong 70% of Americans reportedly believe global warming is happening, 18% are uncertain, and the remaining 12% are in denial. However, only 40% of these Americans believe that climate change will ever harm or affect them, personally. Meanwhile, they do believe that global warming will harm future generations (70%) as well as plants and animals (69%).
Further, only 53% believe global warming is caused by human actions, while almost a third (32%) believe it is a result of “natural changes”. The survey showed very firm support for national policies and funding to reverse or combat climate change. The vast majority seems to rely on research into renewable energy (82%), and 75% support C02 regulations.
Surprisingly, climate change seems majorly unrepresented in the news— 75% of Americans hear about global warming in the media once a month or less. Additionally, only 33% report discussing climate change even “occasionally”, while a similar amount (31%) never discuss it.
The survey information is organized by location. Only several places reached 80% in belief that global warming is happening: Seattle, San Francisco, Honolulu, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York City, Washington D.C., among others. This indicates that, in most places, almost 1 in 3 Americans still deny climate change.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication focuses on educating about climate change while recognizing that there are many dynamic, complex obstacles to reaching consensus: our distinct experiences, cultural values, and worldviews. Still, maintaining a dialogue is crucial: “Individuals, communities, and societies come to understand, care, and act on climate change through their communication with other people.”
Those who deny climate change may have misinterpreted scientific studies, cite cyclic Earth temperatures and natural weather patterns, or claim that rising atmosphere C02 is unrelated to global warming. Regardless, having the most prominent atmospheric surveillance system, NASA insists
“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years”.
The most important, and generally easy, ways for each individual to combat climate change is by supporting carbon taxes, flying and driving less, conserving energy use in the home, switching to renewable power sources, buying local and organic foods, and producing less garbage, especially through curtailing use of disposables. While these small habits may seem inconvenient at first, they are extremely critical, and ultimately something you can feel good about, while setting an example for future generations.