Climate action advocates might be better off framing their message as a moral, rather than scientific cause.
Although the science behind climate change remains unpopular in the United States, a new poll released Friday suggested the moral implications of reducing emissions is less contentious.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents to a recent Reuters/IPSOS said they felt “personally morally obligated” to reduce emissions in their own lives. Sixty-six percent said they believed world leaders likewise have a moral duty to do what they can to reduce emissions.
According to the American Values Network’s director Eric Sapp, action on climate change has “broader appeal” when viewed as a moral choice rather than scientific dispute.
“The climate debate can be very intellectual at times, all about economic systems and science we don’t understand. This makes it about us, our neighbors and about doing the right thing,” said Sapp.
The poll itself found only 64 percent of respondents believed climate change is actually happening – meaning more respondents felt morally obligated to reduce emissions than believed the science.
When it came to understanding “global warming,” U.S. politicians ranked lower than United Nations scientists as credible sources, despite the fact the U.N.-linked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has consistently warned climate change is happening and that it is man-made.
Second only to U.N. scientists as a credible source of information was popular science guru Bill Nye, “the science guy.” A total of 31 percent of respondents said Nye was an “authority about global warming,” while just 18 percent said the same of Al Gore and President Barack Obama.
Despite the scientific consensus that human made climate change is a reality, in recent years polls have shown climate change denial is on the rise.
A poll released last month by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Pew Research Center found nearly half of respondents disagreed with the IPCC, and believed no evidence exists to support the scientific consensus. The results were first published in the journal Science.
The percentage of respondents that disagreed with the majority of the world’s climate scientists was higher than the number of survey participants that rejected another solid scientific consensus – the theory of evolution. A full 31 percent of respondents rejected evolutionary science, claiming modern humans have existed since the beginning of time.
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