Yale Researchers Identify Six Target U.S. Audiences for Climate Change Messaging

Americans’ thinking around climate change has shifted toward more urgency.

Feb. 15, 2022
By Brittany Artwohl

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The global impact of cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion efforts falls short if they are not effec­tively com­mu­ni­cated to the pub­lic.

There are in fact six dif­fer­ent Americas within America, and each responds in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways, for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons.- Anthony Leiserowitz, direc­tor of the Yale Project on Climate Change

As part of their bian­nual cli­mate change per­cep­tion reports, researchers from Yale University have iden­ti­fied six tar­get audi­ences in the United States with unique responses to cli­mate change.

They have been iden­ti­fied as Global Warming’s Six Americas, as they rep­re­sent the cat­e­gories of cit­i­zens’ con­cerns on ris­ing green­house emis­sions and warm­ing ambi­ent tem­per­a­tures.

See Also:Why the U.S. Lags Behind Other Western Nations on Carbon Tax Issue

The Six Americas cat­e­gories run from alarmed, or Americans who are very wor­ried about global warm­ing and are tak­ing action,” to dis­mis­sive. These Americans think global warm­ing is non-exis­tent, not a threat, or an out­right hoax.” In between are con­cerned, cau­tious, dis­en­gaged and doubt­ful.

Looking back over data gath­ered from the study, researchers found that most peo­ple are now alarmed” com­pared to con­cerned” as they were just a few years ago.

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From 2013 to 2015, the largest group of the Six Americas reflects a col­lec­tive under­stand­ing that the impact of cli­mate change is real. The num­ber of peo­ple who iden­tify as cau­tious, doubt­ful or dis­mis­sive is shrink­ing.

Anthony Leiserowitz, direc­tor of the Yale Project on Climate Change and author of Global Warming’s Six Americas, said that Americans do not speak in a sin­gle voice. There are in fact six dif­fer­ent Americas within America, and each responds in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways, for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons.”

The data from the project serves as a foun­da­tion for the Six Americas frame­work to address indi­vid­ual states in the U.S., local gov­ern­ments and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Along with sup­ply­ing aca­d­e­mic insti­tu­tions, envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, busi­nesses, faith groups, doc­tors and sci­en­tists, researchers argue that this infor­ma­tion is vital to the media to reach the tar­get audi­ences and address Americans in each cat­e­gory of the cli­mate change issue.

Patricia Espinosa, the exec­u­tive sec­re­tary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said she is hope­ful but urges a sense of unity to address the cli­mate emer­gency.

We are nowhere near the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5 ºC by the end of the cen­tury,” she said.

Encouraging Americans to set an exam­ple other coun­tries can fol­low, she con­cluded: Deep trans­for­ma­tions require deci­sions that need to be taken now because trans­for­ma­tions them­selves take some time.”



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