Climate change is right now. It is urgent. It is real and we are all living through it. Mitigation efforts are ongoing at various levels. The sense of urgency is evident. And yet, many of us fail to make individual changes. Even when considering collective support and acceptance of policies, there is often backlash for various reasons ranging from a lack of belief in either the problem, the solution, or both, to a lack of trust in the solution or its implementation.
Either way, despite a sense of urgency and communication of the same, reforms, implementations of solutions, and support for urgent changes, is not at levels that would help the situation. A new study suggests that an emphasis on urgency in the discourse of climate change may not be helping garner support for changes and policies as one would expect.
Various events of climate extremities around the world have played a part in creating awareness about the future of the planet, not only in affected communities but all around the world. But it still isn’t enough to change public reaction to related policies towards more positive acceptance and implementation.
“We had the impression that policymakers shy away from enacting ambitious, stringent climate policy because they’re afraid of public backlash. However, if climate change communicators emphasize the urgency of addressing climate change, citizens may become supportive of quick and bold policies,” says co-author Adrian Rinscheid of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. “Then we thought, why don’t we do a study looking at the potential effect that the perceived urgency of climate change has on people’s policy support?”
The results of the study, after a survey of 9,911 individuals across the United States and Germany, found that communicating urgency and emphasizing the same does not garner public support for change. While 80% of German participants and 64% of American participants agreed that climate change is a serious issue today, most of them looked at it as an issue for future generations rather than for themselves.
Believers tend to be in favor of long-term mitigation plans and policies. However, they find it difficult to agree to short-term or immediate changes affecting them directly, diet changes or policies regarding vehicles. If urgency doesn’t get the message across, what does? Unsurprisingly, the answer is clear and transparent communication.
The survey found that communicating context and purpose of policy changes and/or implementation can help people understand, and thus act in support of their beliefs. While this is especially effective with long-term actions, short-term goals can be pushed with the ‘sense of urgency’, concludes the study.
The team’s further steps include understanding the reception of personalized messages and response to near-term solutions by people who have first-hand experienced extreme climate events. The results of this study have been published in the One Earth journal.
I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.