The Planet

Survey Shows Americans Care About Climate Change, But There’s One Big Catch

by Kate Ryan

April 20, 2017
Image by @rmalo5aapi via Twenty20

Earth Day is Saturday, and you know what that means: time to feel guilty about another year of not saving the planet. As one environmental organization aims to point out, you’re not alone. According to a new poll conducted by Ipsos and commissioned by Cool Effect, 75 percent of those surveyed think they have the power to combat climate change as individuals. Of the more than 1,400 people surveyed, however, only 40 percent have actually donated to organizations fighting global warming.

But before we dive into that depressing tidbit, let’s take a deeper look at the study’s full findings and methodology. From April 3 to 5, Ipsos polled a randomly selected group of American respondents, aged 18 and up, via online survey questions. To qualify for the poll, participants had to agree with the evidence that our climate is indeed changing as a result of human activity. Among those polled, the vast majority (98 percent) reported believing it’s important to protect the environment, with 70 percent saying it’s “very important.”

Surely, it’s not surprising climate change believers also believe in the importance of protecting the environment. Pull apart our motivations for saving the planet, however, and that’s where it gets a little more interesting. According to the survey, 48 percent want to save the earth for the sake of future generations, while 11 percent want to save endangered animals. And 1 out of 5 respondents cited clean air as a good reason to protect the environment, while one-third want to hang on to pristine swaths of nature for the sake of outdoor activities. The most obvious answer—that we should save the planet because we live here—only garnered 8 percent of the vote.

Ok, so clearly logic isn’t really our thing as a species. If we want to save the planet—whatever our personal reasons may be—we have to actually do something about it. On this note, Cool Effect Chief Operating Officer Marisa de Belloy said in a press release, “We believe that everyone can be a part of the solution through simple and tangible action,” adding that her organization provides one way by crowdfunding support for greenhouse gas-reducing projects. As one example, Cool Effect partnered with Salesforce to help the business achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, which is actually pretty cool.

But if the words “crowdfunding” and “business” scare you off, here are some other environmental organizations you can support right now:

Environmental Defense Fund: fights pollution, overfishing, and global warming, among many other problems.

Earthjustice: saves the environment one legal battle at a time (by representing Standing Rock water protectors, for instance).

Natural Resources Defense Council: supports scientific research and protection of urban environments.

Sierra Club Foundation: advocates for clean energy, public land protection, and equal access to those lands.

Conservation International: supports nature conservation in the United States and abroad. 

The Nature Conservancy: draws on the power of scientists to protect land, water sources, and marine ecosystems.

The Trust for Public Land: works to ensure there will be public parks for your children’s children’s children.

American Rivers: cleans up and conserves U.S. rivers for vital and recreational use.

Don’t feel guilty this Earth Day. Donate instead. 

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Survey Shows Americans Care About Climate Change, But There’s One Big Catch