Changing Lifestyles

The climate change issue has been with us for a few decades now.  The number of deniers has shrunk, as more and more people are now experiencing the problems that were previously only forecast.

Inasmuch as governments – whose leaders rely on corporate contributions to get elected – have failed to contribute much more than lip service via “summit conferences” to a problem that actually threatens our ability to sustain life – or at least a desired quality-of-life – on Earth, change will have to come from individuals.

However, this survey suggests that individuals are unwilling to make changes to how they’re living now.  I’ll add comments afterwards.

 

•      •      •      •      •      •      •      •

 

FEW WILLING TO CHANGE

LIFESTYLE TO SAVE THE

PLANET, CLIMATE

SURVEY FINDS

 

Exclusive:

Poll of 10 countries including US, UK, France and Germany finds people prioritising measures that are already habits.

People generally saw themselves as much more committed to the environment than others in their local community, or any institution.

 

Jon Henley

@jonhenley

The Guardian

Sun 7 Nov 2021

 

Citizens are alarmed by the climate crisis, but most believe they are already doing more to preserve the planet than anyone else, including their government, and few are willing to make significant lifestyle changes, an international survey has found.  The survey of 10 countries including the US, UK, France and Germany, observed:

 

“The widespread awareness of

the importance of the climate

crisis illustrated in this study

has yet to be coupled with a

proportionate willingness to act.”

 

Emmanuel Rivière, director of international polling at Kantar Public, said the survey, carried out in late September and published to coincide with the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, contained “a double lesson for governments”.

They have, first, “to measure up to people’s expectations,” Rivière said.

 

“But they also have to persuade

people not of the reality of the

climate crisis – that’s done –

but of what the solutions

are, and of how we can fairly

share responsibility for them.”

 

The survey found that 62% of people surveyed saw the climate crisis as the main environmental challenge the world was now facing, ahead of air pollution (39%), the impact of waste (38%) and new diseases (36%).

But when asked to rate their individual action against others’ such as governments, business and the media, people generally saw themselves as much more committed to the environment than others in their local community, or any institution.

About 36% rated themselves “highly committed” to preserving the planet, while only 21% felt the same was true of the media and 19% of local government. A mere 18% felt their local community was equally committed, with national governments (17%) and big corporations (13%) seen as even less engaged.

Respondents were also lukewarm about doing more themselves, citing a wide range of reasons. Most (76%) of those surveyed across the 10 countries said they would accept stricter environmental rules and regulations, but almost half (46%) felt that there was no real need for them to change their personal habits.

Only 51% said they would definitely take individual climate action, with 14% saying they would definitely not and 35% torn. People in Poland and Singapore (56%) were the most willing to act, and in Germany (44%) and the Netherlands (37%) the least.

The most common reasons given for not being willing to do more for the planet were:

 

“I feel proud of what I am currently doing” (74%),

“There isn’t agreement among experts on the best solutions”  (72%), and

“I need more resources and equipment from public authorities” (69%).

 

Other reasons for not wanting to do more included:

 

“I can’t afford to make those efforts” (60%),

“I lack information and guidance on what to do” (55%),

“I don’t think individual efforts can really have an impact” (39%),

“I believe environmental threats are overestimated” (35%) and

“I don’t have the headspace to think about it” (33%).

 

Asked which actions to preserve the planet should be prioritised, moreover, people attributed more importance to measures that were already established habits, required less individual effort, or for which they bore little direct responsibility.

About 57%, for example, said that reducing waste and increasing recycling was “very important”. Other measures seen as priorities were reversing deforestation (54%), protecting endangered animal species (52%), building energy-efficient buildings (47%), and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy (45%).

Respondents viewed measures likely to affect their own lifestyles, however, as significantly less important: reducing people’s energy consumption was seen as a priority by only 32%, while favouring public transport over cars (25%) and radically changing our agricultural model (24%) were similarly unpopular.

Only 23% felt that reducing plane travel and charging more for products that did not respect environmental norms were important to preserve the planet, while banning fossil fuel vehicles (22%) and reducing meat consumption (18%) and international trade (17%) were seen as even lower priorities.  The study said:

 

“Citizens are undeniably concerned by

the state of the planet, but these findings

raise doubts regarding their level of com-

mitment to preserving it.  Rather than

translating into a greater willingness to

change their habits, citizens’ concerns

are particularly focused on their nega-

tive assessment of governments’ efforts.”

 

Representative samples of more than 1,000 people were questioned in the US, UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Singapore and New Zealand.

People gave themselves the highest score for commitment everywhere except Sweden, while only in Singapore and New Zealand were national governments seen as highly engaged. The gulf between citizens’ view of their own efforts (44%) and that of their government (16%) was highest in the UK.

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My personal take is that we’re all so caught up in the tasks of our daily lives – e.g. making a living, taking care of our family, finding time to satisfy our own leisure preferences – that dealing with “big picture ideals” takes a back seat to the immediacy of our other interests.  D offers a expanded view:

 

“We actually believe most people don’t know what to do.  The concept of climate change is huge.  It entails everything from transportation:

 

          “Do I take plane?  Do I drive?  What do I drive?

 

“to:

 

          “What do I eat?  Is meat OK?

 

“to:

 

          “What do I do about the oceans dying,

          or the land being polluted,

          or forests being taken down?”

 

“All of these are a bit overwhelming, especially when taken together.  And some of this could be mandated at a time when politicians and governments are getting huge pushbacks. 

“So now the question begs:

 

“What could or should an individual do?

 

“The only suggestion we have is that every time you do something, always think about ‘What’s next?’  As in:  ‘What is the next thing I can do to support our earth?’  At times, it could be a big step, like putting solar panels on your roof or purchasing an electric car, or it could be a small step such as composting all your food waste, or taking public transportation. 

“Humans need goals.  And they need to keep learning.  What will be your next goal to help our earth?  And what can you learn about yourself to achieve your goal? 

“Go forth and change … to continue to your ability to prosper.”

 

Evidence now suggests that solutions to the problems associated with climate change are primarily going to come from each of us.

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