(3-minute read) YALE U. GROUP STUDIES HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
Six in 10 Americans are either “alarmed” or “concerned” about a warming global climate, and the number of people who are in the alarmed category has doubled since 2013, according to a new survey published by two academic organizations devoted to learning how to convince people to be alarmed enough to support government action.
The yearly study breaks respondents into “Six Americas” based on their climate change beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. The “alarmed” are the most worried about global warming and most supportive of aggressive action to reduce carbon pollution. In contrast, the “dismissive” do not believe global warming is happening or human-caused and strongly oppose climate action.
The research was funded by the climate change advocacy groups 11th Hour Project, the Endeavor Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
The researchers are cheered that, according to the responses received, 29 percent of Americans are now alarmed at global warming, an all-time high since the annual survey started five years ago.
The Americans who are dismissive of climate change or doubtful decreased by 12 points. These are the people who either do not believe it is happened or are doubtful it is human-caused. They are the ones strongly opposed to climate action, such as the Paris Agreement.
The survey was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which supports the theory of human-caused global warming. The program boasts that its work helped convince the Obama White House to make climate change an administration priority.
In 2013, the alarmed and dismissive were an equal size at 14 percent of U.S. adults, a total of 28 percent. By December, 2018, however, the alarmed now outnumber the dismissive more than 3 to 1 (29 percent vs. 9 percent), representing a major shift in these two parts of the general population who are most engaged in the issue of climate change.
But there’s a catch: The survey was web-based and self-administered by respondents.
Yet for political figures, it’s instructive to know that attitudes on climate change may be changing and the public may be more amenable to government action to reduce carbon emissions and to curtail other pollutants.
For policymakers and political observers, it’s instructive to know that there is a concerted and well-funded effort underway to learn how to persuade Americans to move into the “alarmed” category.
For those with investments in energy such as coal, oil, and gas, or even wind and solar, information about public attitudes is worth monitoring, as government policy often follows attitudinal changes.