Americans are more ready than ever to take climate action
By Berit Thorson
Last year was filled with extreme weather events across the United States, including unprecedented wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves throughout the midwest and western United States, an intense and deadly winter storm in Texas, and a number of disastrous tropical storms, tornadoes, and flooding events throughout the South and East. Climate change was also a common topic of focus in national politics, with bipartisan support for policy approaches to curb climate change. Brett Cease, CCL Education & Engagement Director, said that in 2021, our very own CCL volunteers took a collective 3,674,086 actions on CCL Community.
It’s no surprise, then, that according to the most recent results of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication study from September 2021, more Americans are alarmed about climate change than ever before.
At 33%, this is the first time that the Alarmed respondents have outnumbered the other groups, Concerned (25%), Cautious (17%), Disengaged (5%), Doubtful (10%), and Dismissive (9%). Of the groups, the Alarmed are “the most engaged, are very worried about global warming, and strongly support climate action.” This group increased 9 percentage points from March to September of 2021, for a total of 15 percentage points over the past five years. This leads program director Anthony Leiserowitz and his team of researchers to conclude that “Americans are becoming more worried about global warming, more engaged with the issue, and more supportive of climate solutions.”
Not only are people becoming more alarmed about climate change, they are also becoming less doubtful and dismissive. The figure above shows that the latter groups have decreased by 2 percentage points each from June 2017 to September 2021.
What does this all mean for CCL? These trends indicate that people’s knowledge and understanding of climate change is increasing. There is an opportunity to include alarmed citizens in the movement for climate action. In recent years and especially at CCL, people all along the spectrum of political beliefs are showing support for climate-friendly policies. This shift in American concern showcases that initiatives like publishing op-eds in local newspapers, building relationships with grasstops leaders and tabling at community events are informing the general public and creating change.
When it comes to what Americans think about #ClimateChange, the “Alarmed” and “Concerned” now represent a solid majority. If that solid majority expressed their views to members of Congress, we could enact a #PriceOnCarbon and other climate solutions. https://t.co/DhC4LV4TBT
— Citizens’ Climate Lobby (@citizensclimate) January 13, 2022
People are ready to take action, and CCLers are ready to help them do so. Invite your family and friends to contact Congress about climate change. You can also encourage your friends who are not yet involved in the climate movement to visit your local CCL chapter. With more Americans ready to take action than ever before, the best thing we all can do is begin reaching out to our communities and inviting them into this space to move forward together.
Berit Thorson is the CCL Spring 2022 Communications Intern. As an outdoors enthusiast, Berit is passionate about protecting nature and people from the impacts of climate change, and is excited to be working with CCL toward these goals.