Global Warming’s Six Americas

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This post is part of an ongoing effort to discover, and provide a venue for, data collection , reports,  and metrics related to the topics of waste, water, energy and transportation.

A graph from the Global Warming’s Six Americas report

Global Warming’s Six Americas is a report released in May of 2009 by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication,  illuminating American attitudes towards global climate change and climate change policy. The report has the stated premise that “Climate change public communication and 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”.

The group used data gathered during 2008 from an in-depth questionnaire to assess attitudes, concerns, perceptions, risk values, policy preferences and other identified survey dimensions, ultimately enumerating 6 common response types among Americans at large regarding issues related to global climate change.

The six “types” identified by the report are the Alarmed (18%), the Concerned (33%), the Cautious (19%) , the Disengaged (12%), the Doubtful (11%), and the Dismissive (7%). Each group corresponds to a distinct station on the spectrum of attitudes and responses cataloged by the researchers.

It never hurts to hear it again: with only 5% of the world’s population, America is yet responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE)s. This, argues the report, is why understanding the diverse views of the American public on climate change is so crucial for and understanding our collective behaviors and for creating effective public education and policy messages.

Read the full “6 Americas” report here.

Finding Data – The Greendex

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For the third year running National Geographic has teamed up with Globe Scan to provide the Greendex, an annual survey designed “to develop an international research approach to measure and monitor consumer progress towards environmentally sustainable consumption.”  Specifically, the Greendex is a tool to help consumers worldwide to both understand their consumption patterns and to be able to view them within context to others.

The Greendex survey questions were designed to capture the participant’s knowledge, behavior and views on environmental issues and consumer habits ranging from transportation to food choices. The study is based on a sample of 17,000 individuals in 17 countries (14 in 2008). So, while perhaps not a truly  “definitive” study on a global scale, the Greendex survey countries represent the heaviest hitters in terms of resource consumption, and the Greendex 2010 Report provides some interesting insights.

Some notables from the study:

– Respondents from 10 of the 17 countries polled showed an increase in “environmentally friendly consumer behavior” between this year and last.

– Consumers with the highest rankings for “green” choices are in developing nations. Top scores go to India, Brazil and China (in that order).

– Uh-oh USA … we’re showing slight improvement relative to ourselves last year, but we’re still at the bottom of the heap.

– The strongest changes in personal behavior that made positive impacts were in the Housing category (home energy efficiency).

Read the highlights report here.

Calculate your own personal “Greendex” here.

And finally, how reliable are self-reported behavior surveys anyway? Separate the fact from fiction with the Market Basket report.