Story at a glance
- The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication organized Americans into six distinct groups based on attitudes on climate change.
- The groups include: the “Alarmed,” the “Concerned,” the “Cautious,” the “Disengaged,” the “Doubtful” and the “Dismissive.”
- Over the last five years, the number of participants that fall under the Alarmed segment nearly doubled in size.
Americans are becoming increasingly worried about global warming and are now more engaged with climate change issues and solutions than past years, according to a new report.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication organized Americans into six distinct groups using an ongoing nationally representative survey starting in 2008 based on beliefs, attitudes, policy support and behavior with regard to climate change.
The groups include: the “Alarmed,” the “Concerned,” the “Cautious,” the “Disengaged,” the “Doubtful” and the “Dismissive.”
Americans who fall under the Alarmed category are convinced global warming is occurring, human-caused, an urgent threat and are strongly in favor of climate policies to find solutions.
The Concerned includes those who believe global warming is human-caused and a serious threat, and they also support climate policies, however, they believe the impacts are further away in time and thus are less likely to take immediate action. The Cautious are less sure about if global warming is occurring, if it’s human-caused and how serious its impacts are, while the Disengaged know little about the issue. The Doubtful don’t believe it’s occurring or just think it’s a natural cycle and the Dismissive believe human-caused global warming is not happening and oppose climate change policies.
“Climate change public engagement efforts must start with the fundamental recognition that people are different and have different psychological, cultural, and political reasons for acting - or not acting - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” researchers wrote.
In a report published Wednesday, researchers detailed how the number of “Alarmed” Americans has dramatically increased in recent surveys.
The number of participants that fall under the Alarmed category nearly doubled in size over the last five years, growing 15 percentage points from 18 percent to 33 percent of the U.S. adult population. That includes an increase of 9 percent from March 2021 to September 2021, a year that saw a number of climate records shattered and extreme weather events.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans considered “Dismissive” has decreased from 11 percent to 9 percent over the past five years, and all other categories have seen declines.
According to the study, nearly six in 10 Americans, 59 percent, are either Alarmed or Concerned compared to 19 percent who are Doubtful or Dismissive.
“Americans’ understanding of global warming’s reality and risks, and support for climate action is growing,” researchers wrote. “The growth of the Alarmed segment, in particular, is encouraging because progress on climate change requires strong, coordinated, and sustained action, and the Alarmed are the most likely to demand and support these actions by leaders.”
The research follows recent reports claiming the last seven years were the world’s warmest on record “by a clear margin.” The world’s oceans were also the “hottest ever recorded by humans” in 2021. The warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, is yet another worrying sign of climate change.
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