Growing Number of Americans Understand We Must Act on Climate Change
By Kristin Beck, President of Kentucky IPL Board of Directors
The following is the first in a series of blogs from the Kentucky IPL Board of Directors. Public opinion on climate change is shifting. A growing proportion of Americans understand climate change is real and a real threat to human health. They’re starting to see the effects in their own communities and say taking steps to address the issue must be a priority. Read more for ideas on how we can all take action.
Environmentalists are sometimes parodied as tree huggers, more concerned with the plight of polar bears than urgent issues affecting people. But climate change is ultimately a human problem. Even in the midst of an on-going pandemic, climate change is the greatest threat to human health. This was the stark assessment of a joint statement published in more than 200 leading medical journals in September.
More and more Americans are accepting the seriousness of the situation. Three quarters of Americans (76%) say global warming is happening according to research from Yale and George Mason University – the highest proportion in the study’s 13-year history. Seven in ten say they are worried about it.
Moving from Concern to Action
A majority of American adults (64%) say addressing climate change needs to be a top priority in order to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. Americans are also beginning to understand that climate change isn’t a problem of the distant future. The effects are already being seen. The Pew study, conducted in April of this year, found more than half of Americans (57%) believed climate change had affected their local community. This before a summer that saw heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes and floods. All made more severe by climate change
Young people are often more worried than older adults. Researchers from the University of Bath surveyed more than 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 across 10 countries. They found many experiencing what’s been termed “climate anxiety.” These teens and young adults said climate change makes them feel sad, afraid, anxious and angry. Perhaps most concerning, more than half (57%) said they feel powerless.
They aren’t powerless, though, and neither are we.
Raising Our Voices
The first step in fighting climate change is talking about it and learning about it. Talking about what scares us is an important part of managing anxiety. And as we deepen our own understanding of the causes of climate change, we start to think about what we can do about it. These conversations and the actions they inspire can start small in our homes and families. Can our house be more energy efficient? Could we plan our errands better to reduce our driving? What if we tried to eat a more plant-based diet?
The next step is to collaborate with others on larger action. Our faith communities are an ideal place for this work. Would our house of worship benefit from an energy audit? Are principles of stewardship included in religious education we offer? Could our community sponsor a creation-care themed retreat? KIPL’s Green Leaders group is a great way to connect with others, share ideas, ask questions, and get inspiration.
Remember to also take these conversations to our elected officials. Even the ones we “know” won’t listen. We all have a voice and those who represent us need to hear what we have to say.