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.