For immediate release: February 15, 2010
CONTACT: David DeFusco, firstname.lastname@example.org 203-436-4842; Tara Laskowski, email@example.com, 703-993-8815
New Haven, Conn.-There is a significant gap between Americans' conservation attitudes and their actual behaviors, according to the results of a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities.
Large majorities of Americans say that it is very or somewhat important to turn off unneeded lights (93%), lower the thermostat in winter (82%), and use public transportation or carpool (72%), among other conservation behaviors. Yet the study found a number of large gaps between these positive attitudes and actual behavior. For example:
â€¢ 88 percent of Americans say it is important to recycle at home, but only 51 percent "often" or "always" do;
-¢ 81 percent say it is important to use re-usable shopping bags, but only 33 percent "often" or "always" do;
-¢ 76 percent say it is important to buy locally grown food, but only 26 percent "often" or "always" do;
- 76 percent say it is important to walk or bike instead of driving, but only 15 percent "often" or "always" do;
- 72 percent of Americans say it is important to use public transportation or carpool, but only 10 percent say they "often" or "always" do;
"There is plenty of room to improve," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change. "At the same time, each behavior has its own set of barriers. For example, public transportation may not be locally available or convenient. Lowering these barriers will make it much easier for people to act in ways consistent with their values."
The survey also found that, in the past year, approximately 1 out of three Americans have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products, while slightly fewer report that they have punished companies that have opposed steps to reduce global warming by not buying their products. Finally, in the past year 12 percent of Americans have contacted government officials about global warming. Of these, 72 percent urged officials to take action to reduce global warming.
"When it comes to taking a stand against global warming, concerned Americans are much more likely to take action through their consumer purchases than through their actions as citizens" said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. "This lack of citizen engagement may help to explain why Congress is being so timid in addressing climate change."
The results come from a nationally representative survey of 1,001 American adults, age 18 and older. The sample was weighted to correspond with U.S. Census Bureau parameters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent, with 95 percent confidence. The survey was designed by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities and conducted from December 24, 2009 to January 3, 2010 by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel of American adults. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.