People doubt their actions affect climate change. Is that a bad thing?

“People doubt their actions affect climate change. Is that a bad thing?”

A new poll from the Associated Press and NORC, a public affairs research organization at the University of Chicago, suggests that there’s a shifting understanding of who’s responsible for dealing with our overheating planet. According to polling conducted in June, well over 60 percent of Americans think that governments and companies have a large responsibility to take on climate change. By comparison, only 45 percent think the blame rests with individuals, down from 50 percent in 2019.

Climate advocates have long argued that the movement has been overly focused on individual responsibility when large-scale societal shifts can make a much bigger dent in carbon emissions. They point to evidence that companies like BP promoted the idea of lowering your personal carbon footprint for decades, a public relations strategy to deflect the blame for climate change away from the oil industry.

The new survey could indicate that Americans are growing wise to these distraction tactics. But at the same time, completely abandoning personal responsibility could come with unintended consequences. The new poll, for example, points to a growing sense of powerlessness: Just over half of respondents said they felt their actions could have an effect on climate change, compared to two-thirds of people polled three years ago.

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READ MORE at grist.org


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