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Aim: To stem the risks of future climate change, more people need to be motivated to take actions that will mitigate the release of greenhouse gases into the environment. Important to this discussion was that these actions include both public and private sphere behaviors.
Duration of Study: April 2016 to March 2017.
Methodology: We surveyed individual’s beliefs about climate change and their stated willingness to take different actions to mitigate the risks of climate change.
Results: Public sphere behaviors affect the environment only indirectly by influencing either public policies or other private sphere behaviors. Private sphere behaviors have direct environmental consequences but the consequences are small. Individual private sphere behaviors have environmentally significant impacts only in the aggregate when many people independently do similar things.
Conclusion: Our study replicated many of the results from the literature, in particular, that individuals are most willing to engage in small private actions to mitigate climate change, and that at least for large private acts and public acts, individuals who describe themselves as Democrats are also more willing to engage in more costly acts. Our survey also showed an important effect from the 2016 election of President of USA. Following the election, Democrats stated an increased willingness to engage in public sphere acts over time. If more individuals engaging in more public acts can influence public policy and can convert other individuals to engage in more private acts over time, then electing leadership who is negative toward climate change can ultimately result in motivating more individual mitigation activity for climate change.
Summary: This work shows that electing leaders who are negative toward climate change could provide a strong motivation for some individuals to be more willing to engage in public sphere acts over time to mitigate climate change.
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