Survey: Politics, Perceived Costs, Lack of Benefits Diminish Public Support
for Global Warming Solutions
Washington, D.C., Oct. 7, 2008 —Politics, economics and perceived lack of personal benefits were identified in a new survey as the main reasons most Americans do not place a priority on solving global warming, despite their belief that it is real.
The American Climate Values Survey (ACVS), commissioned by leading environmental and climate groups, like The Nature Conservancy, comes as supporters of climate action look to a new administration and a new Congress in 2009 to make real progress on reversing the effects of global warming.
“We need to talk about global warming as an American issue, not a political issue,” said Bob Perkowitz, founder and chairman, ecoAmerica. “We intend to make a clear and convincing case that solving global warming will produce immediate and long-lasting economic, personal and national benefits.”
While 73% of Americans believe that global warming is happening, only half (54%) of Republicans believe it is real, compared with almost all (90%) Democrats surveyed. Similarly, 34% of Republicans think “global warming is not a problem,” versus 7% of Democrats.
Some Americans see the costs of climate solutions as too great. A full 90% of those surveyed 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.”
“Climate action must transcend partisan politics,” said Perkowitz. “Common ground exists among Americans as a basis for building a consensus for action. Overall, 74% of Americans want the USA to lead the world in global warming solutions.”
Beyond working to de-politicize global warming, ecoAmerica intends to help more Americans make the connection between solving global warming and personal and national pocketbooks. For example, the ACVS survey found 85% of Americans are interested in electric or hybrid cars, particularly given today’s gasoline prices.
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.
“Making global warming personally relevant to Americans is critical to building support for solutions,” continued Perkowitz. “When people see that climate solutions benefit them personally and directly, they change their behavior.”
ecoAmerica plans to use the ACVS research to create a number of partnerships with companies and governments aimed at connecting climate action to the closely held personal values and everyday concerns of Americans. “We tend to talk about global warming in very complex and esoteric terms,” said Perkowitz. “We need to show the public how global warming impacts their daily lives through events such as more severe storms, altered growing seasons and disease, as well as through increased costs for heating, cooling and driving the family car.”
“We are confident that the findings from “The American Climate Values Survey will help us refine the messages that will inspire millions of Americans to engage in the climate crisis and demand change,” said Cathy Zoi, CEO, The Alliance for Climate Protection, which cosponsored the survey. “This work is crucial so we can understand what resonates with people the most and what will motivate them to take action.”
“The American Climate Values Survey provides a roadmap for us as we work to communicate more effectively about global warming, and motivate politicians and the American public to act,” said Frances Beinecke, president, Natural Resources Defense Council, a cosponsor of the survey.
"This research provides important insight into how we talk with Americans about the crisis our planet faces,” said Bob Moseley, director of conservation, The Nature Conservancy, another cosponsor of the survey. “When people see that climate solutions benefit them personally and directly, they change their behavior. Ultimately the main message is that every little step counts, and there are very small steps that if taken one at a time can make a real difference over the long run. Modifying any (or all) of our behaviors is the only way to preserve the world for future generations."
The ACVS is an ecoAmerica project conducted by SRI Consulting Business Intelligence, an international consumer research and consulting company. The ACVS assesses contemporary climate and environmental values and motivations to provide information and insights to advocates who want to increase the effectiveness of their efforts. SRIC-BI surveyed 1,707 people in March and April 2008.
ecoAmerica is a non-profit agency that uses psychographic research, strategic partnerships and engagement marketing to shift awareness, attitudes and the personal and public policy behaviors of environmentally agnostic Americans. www.ecoamerica.org
Nature Conservancy is the leading
conservation organization working to protect the most ecologically important
lands and waters around the world for nature and people. To date, the
Conservancy and its 1 million members have been responsible for the protection
of more than 117 million acres worldwide, including 360,000 acres in
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