Public Attitudes, Behavior, and the Willingness to Sacrifice to Mitigate Uncertain Adversity: Water Management Implications for Climate Change

by Robert E. O'Connor,
Richard J. Bord,
Ann Fisher,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


Although several scholars have touted the emergence of a new environmentalism, many Americans seem to make decisions that do not reflect green thinking. Examples include driving more miles and buying gas-guzzling pick-up trucks. Using preliminary survey findings, we find that most people support some government actions that would mitigate potential impacts from climate change. At the same time, compared with other goals, slowing the rate of global warming is relatively unimportant to many people. With low salience, generally supportive attitudes will not necessarily result in supportive behavior. For water management this suggests that support for programs and policies may be quite sensitive to how choices are framed. Providing information regarding what a program or policy is likely to achieve can significantly affect the public's willingness to sacrifice.

Subject Headings: Public opinion and participation | Water management | Climate change | Mitigation and remediation | Sustainable development | Trucks | Government | Global warming

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