Environment

Climate Change Belief Research - great cause for concern

Climate Change Belief Research...
Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities
Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities
View 1 Image
Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities
1/1
Just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities

March 25, 2009 It just goes to show you what a bad state the education system is in when just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities. Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 1,000 people in late January and found that 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally, 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way and 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist. Oh, and for the record, of those who got it right, 55% were male, which means ... we're no longer sure whether to be more concerned about global warming or global ignorance.

The survey was commissioned by Enviromedia and conducted between January 23 - 26, 2009 by telephone in a random digit-dial sample, with a +/- 3.2 percent margin of error. The survey question: “Which one of the following describes your thoughts about climate change, or global warming?” Answers read: “Climate change doesn’t exist,” “Climate change is caused by human activities,” “Climate change is occurring naturally,” or “Climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way.”

Of the people surveyed:

  • 51% believe climate change is caused by human activities
  • 29% believe climate change is occurring naturally
  • 15% believe climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way
  • 3% believe climate change doesn’t exist

Among Americans who say that climate change is caused by human activity, the profile breakdown is 45 percent female and 55 percent male.
Other findings include

  • More (64 percent) 18- to 34-year-olds believe humans cause climate change than any other age group.
  • Americans who believe climate change is caused by human activity are almost twice as likely to buy more green products in this economy than Americans who believe it occurs naturally.
  • According to a separate question in the same telephone survey, four out of five (82%) people say they are still buying green products and services today—which sometimes cost more—even in the midst of a U.S. Recession.
  • Those who believe climate change is caused by human activity are more likely to have attended college; believe that green transportation or electricity from renewable resources is most beneficial for the environment (rather than recycling or minimal/reduced packaging); and be influenced more in their green purchasing decisions by third-party certifications than word of mouth or manufacturer labels.
  • Fifty-five percent of people with at least some college education believe climate change is caused by human activities. (Significantly more than those without college.)
  • More than half (56%) of the people who believe that electricity from renewable resources is the most beneficial thing for the environment believe climate change is caused by human activities. (Significantly more than those who selected recycling or minimal or reduced packaging.)
  • Americans who believe climate change is caused by human activity are almost twice as likely to buy more green products in this economy than Americans who believe it occurs naturally.
  • Of those who don’t buy green products, 40 percent believe climate change is occurring naturally. (Significantly more than those that will buy more green or the same despite the economy.)
  • Americans who say climate change needs to be proven scientifically are still recycling and using green cleaning and personal care products.

A powerpoint presentation on the survey results can be downloaded here.

(Image courtesy of enviromedia)

Mike Hanlon

31 comments
AelHues
I enjoy this publication. I have never felt the need to post a comment before. I felt it was necessary to register today, just to post that I think this article is the most ignorant and condescending that I have ever read here. To state that our education system must be terrible because only 51% of those surveyed got this right, is not only completely idiotic, in it's logical leap, it is factually in error. There is no "consensus" on AGW. I am not an idiot, and nether are the many accomplished scientists that oppose the current popular theory. To claim that there is a right answer that our education system should make readily apparent, calls people like Richard Lindzen, and numerous others, incompetent.
Climate change is a very complex issue, with a wide variety of opinions. Don't show your political bent by denigrating many scientists, and intelligent individuals who you happen to disagree with.
alfred
Why is this debate about beliefs, AGW is either true or not, and science not belief will be the judge in the end. What the American public believes is irrelevant, and should not sway public policy, they still believe in magic. Scale is an attribute that is routinely ignored in all these debates, ie. nothing we can do voluntarily will make one iota of difference in the outcome of AGW (if in fact it is real) in any reasonable time frame. The solution will come by some accident of human ingenuity from some completely unexpected tangent. The future has never been a linear projection of the past, it is logarithmic and chaotic. Impoverishing millions for a belief seems the heights of arrogance. Alfred
John M
I believe that climate change is a natually ocuring event, though there is no doubt Human activity plays a role. How much though is a hard thing to assess.
Todd Dunning
Like all businesses, Enviromedia will survive only as long as customers value their services and brand. But the GW buzz has cooled along with the weather. Pragmatic greenwashers need to be looking for the next crisis theme to make them stand out. From Enviromedia's site:
"Welcome to a radically different kind of advertising and P.R. agency. One built on the passionate belief that doing the right thing isn’t just the right thing, but a powerful business advantage...
...We do it through an integrated package of in-house services including research, branding, creative campaign development, corporate public affairs, media relations, community outreach, experiential marketing, Web design/programming and media planning and buying."
hughmama
There is always argumentative refuge for those for whom human-made climate changes means an affront on their way of life. It's the quintessential wicked problem - neither side of the argument will ever be able to construct an argument complete enough to convince everyone - it's far too complex an issue. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object you have to reconsider your assumptions. Time to abandon science as the means to proof something needs to be done. Objectivity? bah! Can you prove it? Good luck trying!
Check out http://debategraph.org/ for an excellent interactive map of arguments for and against the concept of human-made climate change.
hughmama
I think Gizmag can say what it wants AelHues. It doesn't claim to be objective, it's new media, not the Wall Street Journal. For what it's worth I think you're an idiot also - just my opinion.
"What the American public believes is irrelevant, and should not sway public policy" Alfred, oh dear! No one put you in charge!.
They work for us - that's democracy for better or worse.
"AGW is either true or not" hmmm qualify that statement if you can.
John, no one is arguing naturally occurring climate variations but I agree it is hard to asses how big a part humans play - doesn't mean that we have to sit around waiting for someone to prove that humans caused any of it for us to choose better ways of doing things. Who's permission are we waiting for again?
Simply put, if you care about the environment you live in, if your at all thankful for your existence and you have an inkling that humankind isn't the only thing that matters on this planet - find out how you can repay the gift that is everything it gave to make you who you are.
Human accelerated climate change doesn't need to exist for you to do that.
Not_Biased
I've enjoyed this site for the last couple years. I have never posted before. I HAD to post in response to this article. I know GizMag does not claim to be a reputable news source. That being said, those naive enough to read this work as fact should at least get the chance of researching the bigger picture. The author proves he/she has little to no understanding of global climate patterns over time when he states: "It just goes to show you what a bad state the education system is in when just 51% of the population believe that climate change is caused by human activities." This infers those not believing humans are the main cause or a significant contributer to climate change are either uneducated, or unenlightened.
Had the author done his homework, he\'d see there are countless arguments presenting both sides, and both backed by thousands of man hours of climatologist's work. One of the only known facts of the biggest causes of global warming is there is not enough evidence to make a valid assumption.
The Earth\'s climate is cyclical and it IS known that it\'s reached MUCH cooler average temperatures and MUCH higher average temperatures for periods of thousands and even MILLIONS of years.
The earth is thought to be 4,550,000,000 (4.5 billion) years old. We have only started collecting "reliable" global climate data over the past 30 years with the help of weather satellites and thousands of ground monitoring stations. Even so, our current data sets are incomplete. 1/30th of 4.55 billion isn't quite a large enough data set to make any valid conclusions.
It is certainly true the average temperatures of many measuring points have increased over the past decade around the globe. It's also true many average temperatures have dropped (though not as many). Whether or not this fluctuation is natural, or man made is hugely debatable. How much effect mankind's pollution has on the Earth\'s climate is also debatable (from negligible to significant). The more we learn about the how the Earth works its "magic," the more we realize we don't know.
That being said, I am an advocate of the environment and do not believe in unnecessary waste or consumption. I'd simply like to point out this article is severely flawed in jumping to conclusions based on popular theory alone.
Timekiller
Sorry guys, but all of that have posted here have missed the point of this article entirely. There's no possible way that gizmag or its writing staff could possibly be so ignorantly one-sided on this very controversial subject to have written this article for the soul purpose of making an intelligent point, because no thinking person could be.
No, what it comes down to is blatant self-promotion. They know that if they write something so ridiculously out of touch with reality that they'll incite enough fury to cause regularly clear-minded thinkers to "lose it" and actually sign up, write in and say something intelligent to counteract the stupidity (thanks to those that shared some intelligence in this respect, from both sides of the argument - especially the last comment I read by not_biased). It's pure grassroots marketing, and nothing more.
Even the sensational graphic that shows a poor defenseless polar bear shrinking to a mere 3-percent of its "existence" is propaganda at its best - clearly this team of instigators went to the same propaganda school as those that did the trailer for Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", which shows an atomic bomb exploding in the background to clearly make a point about... what exactly? Oh yes, fear-based marketing.
Of course, while such marketing tricks work over the short term, in this case driving up email contacts so that gizmag can hopefully profile us properly in the future and eventually sell our opt-in information to third-parties, they lose credibility as a source for unbiased news coverage (or even one with thought provoking biases), and eventually we'll stop coming.
Even worse, when it comes time to profile us for really useful information that their marketers can compile and resell, we won't trust their corporate judgment enough to share our personal details. No gizmag, you've lost this time around. While you've stirred up the pot enough to cause some significant feedback, it appears that your intelligent reader base that comes here to learn about interesting gadgets and receive well rounded coverage on issues that matter, are not impressed with such shoddy journalism.
TexByrnes
'Got it right'? Who says so?
The question was, 'which of the following describes your thoughts?', so, if everyone gave a truthful answer, everyone 'got it right'!
The only question/statement asked or given, with a definably 'correct' answer was:
"Climate change needs to be proven scientifically either way."
Let's face it......if the reporter can decide that some people 'got it right', why bother with a survey in the first place?
Adding a completely irrelevant comment, I was taught never to use 'got', or 'get' in place of a descriptive verb......so there!
Gizmag
Just for the record, Gizmag will never sell information about our readers. Carry on, and lets keep it above the belt.