Thursday, December 01, 2022

Many in America doubt his personal impact on fighting climate change

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Americans are now less concerned about how climate change may affect them personally – and about how their personal choices affect the climate – than three years ago, a new The survey shows, even a vast majority still believe in climate change. Is Happening.

The June Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, conducted before Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, shows that the majority of American adults think government and corporations are doing enough to address climate change. has an important responsibility. The new law will invest about $375 billion in climate strategies over the next decade.

Overall, 35 percent of American adults say they are personally “extremely” or “very” concerned about the impact of climate change, down from 44 percent in August 2019. Another third say they are somewhat concerned. Only half of people say their actions have an impact on climate change, compared to two-thirds in 2019.

Black and Hispanic Americans, women and Democrats are particularly likely to be concerned about the impact of climate change on them personally and how their personal choices affect the climate.

Several climate scientists told The Associated Press that the changes are related, but not surprisingly, individuals are feeling overwhelmed by a range of issues, including an inflation-stricken economy now more than two years after a pandemic. . In addition to overtaking other issues, climate change or the environment is now mentioned as a priority by fewer Americans than a few years ago, according to the survey.

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Diane Panicucci in West Warwick, Rhode Island, believes climate change is happening and needs to be addressed. But for him, it’s a lower priority than other issues, including inflation and the cost of food and medicine.

“There is a lot of unrest in this country right now,” the 62-year-old said. “People are suffering.”

Panicucci added solar panels to his home, and he cut down on driving. She thinks that individuals should do what they are told will help, but “it doesn’t start with small ol. It has to be massive,” she said.

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While the climate crisis would require an “all of the above approach”, it is “reasonable” that individuals do not feel they have the bandwidth to tackle climate action “above everything else”, said institute director Kim Cobb. Brown University for the Environment and Society.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans say the U.S. federal government, developed countries abroad, and corporations and industries have a greater responsibility for addressing climate change. Less – 45 percent – say about individual people.

Jack Hermanson, a 23-year-old software engineer, feels strongly that corporations are the “prime culprits” of emissions and that the government is complicit in that behavior.

“I don’t know if it makes sense to say that individuals should work and fix the climate,” said the Denver resident. “I would say that my personal actions hardly mean anything.”

US household greenhouse gas emissions are not as high as those from cars, trucks and other transportation, electrical power generation, and industry. A University of Michigan study of 93 million American households in 2020 estimates that 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from household energy use, with the per capita footprint of wealthy Americans nearly 25 percent higher than that of low-income residents.

But like many others who spoke to the Associated Press, that gap didn’t stop Hermanson from trying. He’s been a vegetarian for four years, and he tries to bike or take public transportation, buy products with less packaging, and recycle.

Among Americans who believe in climate change, 70 percent say that it will be necessary for individuals to make major lifestyle changes to tackle the issue. Most think that individuals have at least some responsibility.

Shahzeen Attari, who studies human behavior and climate change at Indiana University, said individuals may believe that they personally do not have a direct impact, while also believing that collective action is necessary to combat climate change. .

The survey shows that 6 out of 10 Americans say they have reduced their driving, reduced use of heat or air conditioning, and bought used products instead of new. About three-quarters are using energy efficient appliances. Most of those who are taking these steps say that the main reason for this is to save money instead of helping the environment.

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Fewer – roughly a quarter – say they use an electricity supplier that gets electricity from renewable sources, and only 1 in 10 lives in a solar-paneled home or drives a hybrid or electric car.

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Brad Machincia, 38, a welder, said he would not switch from his gas car to an electric vehicle. While he said he grew up in a home in West Virginia that uses renewable energy sources, he hasn’t adopted those practices for his family in Christiansburg, Virginia. Climate change used to be a concern for her, but this time, she feels like it’s “beating a dead horse.”

“There’s nothing we can do to fix it,” he said.

Jonathan Foley, executive director of the climate nonprofit Project Drawdown, said individuals should feel empowered to make climate-driven decisions that not only help reduce emissions but also help improve their lives. Foley thinks the findings suggest that efforts to engage Americans need to move away from doomsday scenarios that include diverse messengers and can focus on ways that climate solutions can help address other priorities of Americans. can intersect with.

Financial clerk Julio Carmona, 37, said he recently converted his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut to solar power because the switch would help reduce his carbon footprint and his expenses, albeit marginally.

“I thought it was something smart for us long term,” he said. “I just wanted to do my part, whether it was going to make a difference or not.”

Associated Press Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

1,053 adults were surveyed June 23-27 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sample error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for all respondents.

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