CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--According to a recent MIT survey, Americans now rank climate change as the country's most pressing environmental problem--a dramatic shift from three years ago, when they ranked climate change sixth out of 10 environmental concerns.
Almost three-quarters of the respondents felt the government should do more to deal with global warming, and individuals were willing to spend their own money to help.
"While terrorism and the war in Iraq are the main issues of national concern, there's been a remarkable increase in the American public's recognition of global warming and their willingness to do something about it," said Stephen Ansolabehere, MIT's Elting R. Morison Professor of Political Science.
The survey results were released Oct. 31 at the seventh annual Carbon Sequestration Forum, an international meeting held at MIT that focuses on methods of capturing and storing emissions of carbon dioxide--a major contributor to climate change.
Ansolabehere's colleagues on the work are Howard Herzog, principal research engineer in MIT's Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE), LFEE research associates Thomas E. Curry and Mark de Figueiredo, and Professor David M. Reiner of the University of Cambridge.
The findings are a result of two surveys, the first administered in September 2003 and the follow-up in September 2006. Each survey included about 20 questions focusing on the environment, global warming and a variety of climate-change-mitigation technologies.
In designing and administering the surveys, the research team collaborated with Knowledge Networks, a company that specializes in Internet-based public opinion surveys. More than 1,200 people answered each survey (with no overlap between the two groups of respondents).
Comparing results from the two surveys provides insights into how public awareness, concern and understanding have changed--or not changed--during the past three years
Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
Massachusetts Institute of Technology