Politics and religion may have a strong influence on how people perceive environmental issues, according to a new survey.
In the survey – published on the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research’s website – researchers from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research asked 1,500 Americans about their stance on environmental issues, interaction with the natural world, global warming, their political views, and their religious beliefs.
Based on the results of the survey, the researchers created separate groups which they labelled: outdoor greens, liberal greens, religious browns, conservative browns, outdoor browns, religious greens, and homebody.
Just ten percent the Americans fell into the ‘outdoor green’ category, according to the researchers. This specific group consists of people who enjoy spending time in nature and who are environmentalists. What seemed to motivate their support for ideas such as burning less fossil fuel was their appreciation for nature.
About nine percent of the participants in the study were categorised as ‘liberal green’. What it means is that these people show their support when it comes to environmentalist causes, even though they spend less time enjoying nature, compared with those in the ‘outdoor green’ group. They also believe that is the responsibility of humankind to care for planet Earth.
Researchers found that eight percent of the adults in the survey fell into the ‘religious browns’ category. They did not spend a lot of time in nature and did not support environmental causes. About 17 percent of them reported that they felt entirely disconnected from nature. The ‘conservative browns’ – who made up about eight percent of the survey participants – shared similar views with those in the ‘religious browns’ group.
The vast majority of people (65 percent) situated themselves somewhere in the middle of the spectrum: they were neither completely green, not completely brown.
For instance, even though the ‘religious greens’ do not spend much time enjoying nature, they feel as though it is the duty of human beings to protect the environment. ‘Outdoor browns’ (15 percent) are quite the opposite, as they do spend a lot of time outside, but they do not necessarily support environmentalist causes.
The largest group was that of the ‘homebody’ (20 percent of Americans). People in this group tend to spend a lot more time indoors and are not very concerned about the current state of the environment.
When it comes to global warming, 96 percent of ‘liberal greens’ believe that global warming is happening, followed by ‘religious greens’ and ‘outdoor greens’ with 88 percent, and by 44 percent ‘outdoor browns’. On the other end of the spectrum, 54 percent of religious browns and 83 percent of conservative browns think global warming is not real.
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