Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Guardian, most people surveyed already believe they are doing more than their fair share to save the planet from climate change.
Few willing to change lifestyle to save the planet, climate survey finds
Exclusive: poll of 10 countries including US, UK, France and Germany finds people prioritising measures that are already habits
Citizens are alarmed by the climate crisis, but most believe they are already doing more to preserve the planet than anyone else, including their government, and few are willing to make significant lifestyle changes, an international survey has found.
“The widespread awareness of the importance of the climate crisis illustrated in this study has yet to be coupled with a proportionate willingness to act,” the survey of 10 countries including the US, UK, France and Germany, observed.
The survey found that 62% of people surveyed saw the climate crisis as the main environmental challenge the world was now facing, ahead of air pollution (39%), the impact of waste (38%) and new diseases (36%).
But when asked to rate their individual action against others’ such as governments, business and the media, people generally saw themselves as much more committed to the environment than others in their local community, or any institution.
Only 51% said they would definitely take individual climate action, with 14% saying they would definitely not and 35% torn. People in Poland and Singapore (56%) were the most willing to act, and in Germany (44%) and the Netherlands (37%) the least.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/07/few-willing-to-change-lifestyle-climate-survey
The quasi-religious green demands for ritual recycling, and other belief building exercises, appear to some extent to have backfired. People who conscientiously sort their trash into the correct bins, and use less plastic, or whatever, already feel they are doing their bit to save the world from climate change. I never got a straight answer from politicians about what happens to recycled trash, I strongly suspect much of it ends up in landfill, or dumped in the sea.
Concern about the cost of climate action was a major factor, 69% said they needed more public resources, while 60% said they can’t afford to make the effort required. There is also a strong perception of disagreement amongst experts, so the public is clearly skeptical about claims there is a near 100% scientific consensus.
The cost concern is intriguing from a number of perspectives. Greens have clearly failed to sell the idea that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuel. Another possible interpretation, and this is only speculation, is people might be nervous about giving straight answers, preferring to conceal their skepticism behind financial concerns. Yet people still vote for green leaning politicians in large numbers, so there must be some level of concern amongst ordinary people.
33% of respondents agreed they “don’t have the headspace to think about it”, so a significant minority of people appear to be fed up with wall to wall climate message.
I think it will take more than a Guardian survey to tease out what is really happening, but my key takeaway is ordinary people are reluctant to embrace more radical climate action.