The US and climate change activism

What with the Tea Party, the religious right, Fox News and others it’s easy to think that there are only few US citizens with a handle on reality or a concern about issues such as climate change and the state of their nation.

For instance, most Americans have little grasp of the realities of just how unequal US society is ( ) even if they are generally aware that there is a problem and are increasingly angry about it. On the other hand there is now significant evidence that large numbers of Americans are not only concerned about climate change but want to do something about it – despite the blog’s rather dismissive (and partly inaccurate due to hyperbole) comments in its last post. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in a visit to Indonesia recently compared climate change to weapons of mass destruction and one wonders whether the message might also have been directed to Indonesia’s neighbours. Moreover, despite the views of Australians such as Newman, Warburton, the IPA et al it seems the weapons of mass destruction are, in this case, more real than the ones many of the climate change deniers in Australia were so certain would be found in Iraq. John Kerry plans to make a number of speeches on the subject around the world in the next year and hopefully one of them will be in Australia.

To add to the picture, this week Professor Ed Maibach sent the blog details of the George Mason University’s  Centre for Climate Change Communications November 2013 report on Americans actions to limit climate change. It’s very revealing about what Americans are doing about the problem. The full report can be found at

In summary (and the blog quotes the following slab from the material Professor Maibach sent) the report finds that among Americans:

Three in ten (29%) have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming. Nearly four in ten (36%) have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to pass laws increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as a way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels. About half of Americans (53%) say they would sign a petition about global warming if asked by a person they “like and respect.” About four in ten say that, if asked, they would sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming (39%), attend a neighbourhood meeting to discuss global warming and actions people can take (38%), or attend a public meeting or presentation about global warming (38%).

One in four Americans would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse (24%), and about one in six (17%) say they would personally engage in such activities.

The survey also found that many Americans have already or are willing to engage in purposeful consumer activism:

Three in ten (29%) say that, in the past 12 months, they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products. About one in four (24%) report that in the past 12 months they have punished companies that are opposing steps to reduce global warming by not purchasing their products.

About half of Americans (48%) say that they intend to engage in consumer activism over the next 12 months – rewarding companies by buying their products and/or punishing companies by not buying their products – based on whether or not companies have taken steps to reduce global warming.

The report also includes measures of Americans’ conservation of energy at home and on the road and communication behaviour with family and friends and segments the data.

All in all – some very good news, except perhaps for Fox News viewers who will probably never get to hear about it.