Americans not concerned about climate change

climate changeThis short piece from Roll Call compares the percentage of Americans who cite climate change as a “major threat” compared to residents of other countries. The findings are striking. Despite mounting evidence of the snowballing effects of climate change on our country, a recent Pew poll found that more Americans see other “threats” as having greater importance, such as nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea. Unpacking this cognitive disconnect between the reality of the impacts of climate change and the lack of public concern, much less a public call for action, is not going to be easy. There are some excellent resources out there about how to effectively reframe the climate change debate in a more productive direction. One example is this piece we noticed recently in The Atlantic, which looks at reframing that will appeal to a broader, even conservative audience. The piece concludes that:

But at the national level in the United States, environmental progress has been stymied by elites with a vested interest in fostering denial and the economic means to do so. This is not an easily surmountable challenge, but the polling reveals that underlying support offers hope for moving climate-change policy forward; and unlike hot-button issues like abortion or gay rights, the policy solutions are well agreed-upon. Yet the environmental movement has not helped itself by framing the issue in terms that appeal mostly to the converted. Activists will find more success if they focus on promoting sanctity and responsibility, showing how protecting the environment is economically beneficial and leaving a legacy for future generations.

If you’d like more resources on reframing climate change and environmental issues, give us a holler and we’ll share what we’ve found that is helpful. As a start, you might like this new post by our Topos friend and colleague Joe Grady.

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