New Survey Uncovers Why Global Warming Solutions Are Not a Public Priority

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Global warming solutions lack support of most Americans due to politics, perceived personal costs and lack of benefits, according to the American Climate Values Survey (ACVS).

Politics, economics and perceived lack of personal benefits were identified in a new survey as the main reasons why most Americans do not place a priority on global warming solutions, despite their belief that global warming is real. The American Climate Values Survey (ACVS) was commissioned by leading environmental groups and 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. Some Americans see the costs of reversing climate change as too great. A full 90% of those surveyed agreed with the 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. "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. 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 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," said Perkowitz.

"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 helped sponsor 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, another sponsor of the survey.

"This research provides important insight into how we talk with Americans about the crisis our planet faces," said Bob Mosley, 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 Summary Report will be available on the ecoAmerica Web site after October 14.

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.

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Breanne Reynolds
ecoAmerica
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