Essay by Eric Worrall
“… individuals don’t feel they have the bandwidth to tackle climate action “on top of everything else,” …”
AP-NORC poll: Many in US doubt their own impact on climate
By HANNAH FINGERHUT and NUHA DOLBY
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are less concerned now about how climate change might impact them personally — and about how their personal choices affect the climate — than they were three years ago, a new poll shows, even as a wide majority still believe climate change is happening.
The June Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, which was conducted before Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, shows majorities of U.S. adults think the government and corporations have a significant responsibility to address climate change. The new law will invest nearly $375 billion in climate strategies over the next decade.
Overall, 35% of U.S. adults say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about the impact of climate change on them personally, down from 44% in August 2019. Another third say they are somewhat concerned. Only about half say their actions have an effect on climate change, compared with two-thirds in 2019.
Many climate scientists told The Associated Press that the shifts are concerning but not surprising given that individuals are feeling overwhelmed by a range of issues, now including an economy plagued by inflation after more than two years of a pandemic. In addition to being outpaced by other issues, climate change or the environment are mentioned as priorities by fewer Americans now than just a few years ago, according to the poll.
While the climate crisis will require an “all of the above approach,” it’s “reasonable” that individuals don’t feel they have the bandwidth to tackle climate action “on top of everything else,” said Kim Cobb, director of the Institute at Brown University for Environment and Society.
I believe there is a simpler explanation for this fall in concern – the exaggerated Covid panic has damaged public faith in our institutions. People are less ready to believe other exaggerated scare stories. Look how flat the Monkeypox scare has fallen.
And people really do have a lot more real issues to worry about lately, like out of control inflation, gasoline prices, war in Ukraine, and simmering tensions in the South China Sea.