Bill Moyers recently did this interview with Anthony Leiserowitz, “an expert on the public’s perception of climate change.”
Leiserowitz says there are six different groups of people “that each respond to this issue in very different ways and need different kinds of information about climate change to become more engaged with it.” Here are the first two, which together comprise about 45% of the U.S. public.
So the first group that we’ve identified is a group we call the alarmed. It’s about 16 percent of the public. These are people who think it’s happening, that it’s human caused, that it’s a serious and urgent problem and they’re really eager to get on with the solutions. But they don’t know what those solutions are. They don’t know what they can do individually and they don’t know what we can do collectively as a society to deal with it. We haven’t done a very good job of explaining what we can do.
Then comes a group that we call the concerned. This is about 29 percent of the public. These are people that think okay, it’s happening, it’s human caused, it’s serious, but they tend to think of it as distant. Distant in time, that the impacts won’t be felt for a generation or more and distant in space, that this is about polar bears or maybe small island countries, not the United States, not my state, not my community, not my friends and family or the people and places that I care about. So they believe this is a serious problem, but they don’t see it as a priority.
To read about the next four groups, the remaining 55%, see the interview [link above].