Framing Science

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Despite record amounts of media attention and ever certain science about threats to the environment, Americans’ commitment to taking environmentally sustainable actions remains little changed over the past eight years. In the first of their annual Earth Day survey reports, Gallup finds that only 28% of Americans say that they have made major changes in their lifestyles to protect the environment. This proportion is little changed over the 31% in 2000.

As for the actions that Americans’ consider major lifestyle changes, a strong plurality (39%) report the relatively simple activity of recycling. In all, the results underscore the major communication challenge in shifting public behavior towards meaningful energy conservation.

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Comments

  1. #1 Mark Powell
    April 19, 2008

    Good information and commentary on an important issue. Why do you think people fail to act despite lots of information out there on the need to act?

    I think one part of the answer is that saving the environment has a �hair shirt� flavor because most enviro messages say we need to sacrifice to save the planet. I think we need to focus more on a call to make a shared investment in a better future, and have fun along the way.

    I don’t like what I think is the typical liberal/rationalist answer: people are dumb. lazy, and too busy with NASCAR

  2. #2 Mary Hoff
    April 20, 2008

    Let’s think about this. If I made major changes in the late 1990s and continue those practices today, I am still doing environmentally responsible things – but I’m not going to appear in the “made major changes in the past 5 years” category. So to a certain extent those numbers are additive, and we may be making progress after all.

  3. #3 Muse142
    April 20, 2008

    There is a new commercial running in my area for wecansolveit.org that, IMHO, was a perfect example of framing for a wide audience. I am a regular scienceblogs reader and when I saw this, I thought of you guys.

  4. #4 Anna Haynes
    April 20, 2008

    > “Despite record amounts of media attention and ever [more] certain science about threats to the environment…”

    The “deficit model” of climate science education is wrong – we have to root out the disinformation before the information can stick. Google
    “deficit model” oreskes

    (Plus personal actions aren’t the most effective way to address the problem. (“It�s important to change the light bulbs, but it�s much more important to change the laws.”) – and I think at some level many people sense this.)

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