The degree of resignation spotlighted below is something that activists must pay attention to; there’s a clear need to change gears in reaching out to citizens.
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (2015) demonstrated that a mere 52 percent of registered U.S. voters felt that alterations in the earth’s climate were mainly a function of human activity. That should be highly instructive in the face of the fact that the same survey showed — definitively — that 97 percent of climate change-related research proved that human behavior was primarily responsible for global warming.
In addition, I find it fascinating that some of the authors of the report — in private exchanges — revealed that of the 48% of registered voters who didn’t think planetary warming could be primarily attributed to human civilization, around 20% thought that climate change issues were a hoax, and 25% either thought that they couldn’t do anything about what was happening (regardless of causes) and/or didn’t care about the consequences of whatever was happening. The vast majority in that 52% category suggested that they thought technology was “likely to” (or “might”) come up with some “solution,” or they didn’t think they could personally make a difference at this point.
This is not a pretty picture for activists who think they can mobilize concerned citizens to make a difference. But the challenge activists face is much worse than what the above suggests.
A great many well-respected commentators list Climate Change and our Nuclear Dynamic as the two most worrisome matters on earth. They point out that those two issues are the reasons why we’re headed for the precipice, why the the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists note that it’s 3 Minutes to Midnight. Well, I did some research of my own throughout California recently concerning our Nuclear Dynamic, and you’re likely to find the results of my survey instructive in light of the Yale Program’s findings.
On the street, via email, and on the phone, I asked 108 people at random how they would rate our Nuclear Dynamic*, on a scale of 1 to 10, the former representing no threat whatsoever, the latter meaning that we were in dire straits, facing the greatest imaginable threat, and demanding immediate new kinds of efforts to reduce our collective danger.
*In the supposedly “progressive” areas of Berkeley and Santa Cruz, California, citing nuclear weapons, nuclear facilities, the protection and proliferation of both, and the potential for accidents.
Over 50% volunteered a mere (very out-of-touch) 5 or 6, and only 11 assigned a “10” in the survey. An equal amount were below 5 and between 7 and 9. Meaning, hardly anyone is aware of what our real situation is. In fact, there’s no question that we’re living in a tense “10” world. We should be thinking like the band member in Spinal Tap, assigning an ELEVEN!
Seriously, though, this is no joke. Activists are attached to a yoke of sorts which has them dealing with the public as if they’re informed to a much greater degree than they are.
Richard Oxman, former professor for half-a-century, has been an activist since 1949. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.