A comparison of Gallup polls asking the American public how much they personally worried about global warming
A comparison of Gallup polls asking the American public how much they personally worried about global warming (or the greenhouse effect) found that between 1989 and 2003 twenty-four per cent to 40 per cent of the respondents worried „a great deal? (Brechin, 2003:111). When these are added to the percentage that worry „a fair amount?, the Gallup polls indicate that between 50 per cent and 72 per cent of respondents have felt this way for a number of years. In another research, using case studies and the Dillman tailored design method, Leiserowitz (2006) contended that since the year 2000, numerous public opinion polls had demonstrated that large majorities (92 per cent) of Americans were aware of global warming. Moreover, 74 per cent of them argued that climate change was real and already underway. Meanwhile, 76 per cent of the total population already viewed climate change as a somewhat very serious problem. But at the same time, Americans continued to regard both the environment and climate change as relatively low national priorities even though they are the major (25 per cent) contributors to carbon emissions at global level. For instance, in a 2000 Gallup poll, climate change ranked 16th on America?s list of most important problems facing the country (PIPA, 2005). Namafe (2009) also highlights that even Barrack Obama, the incumbent president of USA by the time this research was conducted, never considered climate change as a major pressing environmental issue compared to terrorism and others.
In their later research, Dunlap and Saad (2001) also affirmed that among most if not all Americans, global warming ranked 12th out of 13 environmental issues, just below urban sprawl. Unlike on themselves, a clear majority (68 per cent) of respondents in USA were most concerned about the impact of climate change on people around the world and non-human nature. Only 13 per cent were most concerned about the impact on themselves, their family or their local community (Ibid). This may help explain why global climate change remains a relatively low priority in issue ranking surveys in America. Higher-ranking socio-economic issues (such as the economy, education and health care) and environmental issues (clean air, clean water, and urban sprawl) are more easily understood as having direct local relevance. „Global? climate change, is not yet perceived as a significant local concern among the Americans to the extent that, climate change is unlikely to become a high-priority national issue until Americans consider themselves personally at risk (Op.cit). Generally, the revealed perceptional studies on climate change in
America mainly focused on how worried people were about it, levels of awareness, how serious it has been and who could be most affected. Much as we appreciate such approaches and themes, they were somehow too simplistic to precisely bring out the nature of climate change. This study adds more knowledge by focusing on how some residents from selected Zambia?s Lusaka Province perceived the causal factors, effects, coping strategies and learning. In continuation, the next segment reviews some results from the United Kingdom (UK).