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    LAC the Most Aware Public About Climate Change?

    By Keith R | January 31, 2007

    Topics: Climate Change, Environmental Protection | No Comments »

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    I’m seeing press briefs bouncing around the internet over the past 24 hours reporting that a recent ACNeilsen survey of 25,408 people in 46 nations* found that the US public is the least aware and least concerned about global climate change, whereas the public in the four Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) nations surveyed (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico) are the most aware and concerned. While I can’t say I am all that shocked by the US results, the LAC results, if reported accurately, are a pleasant and welcome surprise.

    Reportedly 96% of those interviewed from LAC indicated awareness of global warming, and 75% considered it a “very grave” problem — much higher than the global average of 57% and the US low of 42% (13% of US respondents claimed to have not heard of the issue!).

    62% of Latin Americans surveyed feel that global climate change is the result of human activity, while only 32% of US respondents think so. The level is even higher for Brazilians, 70% of whom said climate change is the result of human activity.

    So far I have not found the raw data summaries — does anyone have a URL for the full data? The ACNeilsen press release is a bit sketchy. I have a request in to their contact person, but am not holding my breath while awaiting a response full of data…

    Those of you following the The Temas Blog any length of time will not be surprised to hear that I have some reservations about the confidence we can have in this survey that I hope a view of raw data will clear up. First off, the survey was conducted over the internet, so, in the case of LAC at least, you are talking to the most connected, most internationally aware, and probably better-off financially of respondents — my guess is that if the same questions were given to the average man on the street in those four LAC nations, the results would be substantially different.

    Second, connected to reservation #1, the survey most likely touched respondents in major metropolitan areas in the four LAC nations. Would we find the same awareness and concern even in those countries outside of Mexico City, São Paulo, Rio, Buenos Aires, Santiago?

    Third, ACNeilsen picked the four LAC nations with the best developed media markets, the most the outward looking urban middle class, and some of the most developed environment movements. If we asked these questions of people in, say, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Suriname, Trinidad, Bolivia or even Venezuela — even if we asked people via the internet — would the results be in line with those from the four LAC nations? Much as I might wish they were, I seriously doubt it.

    Don’t get me wrong — I am indeed encouraged that even the internet-savvy respondents in those four LAC nations show strong awareness and concern! It’s a very good start! But I think broader, deeper public attitude surveys would help even more in identifying the challenges confronting the region’s governments in educating their constituents of the issues, tough decisions and trade-offs involved in this complex issue. Public awareness, understanding and concern will be crucial to the success of any climate change strategy LAC governments pursue.

    * Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam

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