In a poll by Reuters/IPSOS, it was revealed that a significant majority of Americans believe that fighting climate change is a moral issue prompting the reduction of carbon emissions.
Conducted in February, the poll involved 2,827 Americans and was carried out to measure if moral language had a place in the debate about climate change. The results suggest that appealing on ethics may be the key to promoting action against climate change.
Aside from 72 percent of respondents believing that they have a personal moral obligation to do what they can to reduce carbon emissions, 66 percent said world leaders have the moral obligation to take the initiative and spur a nation to action.
"The climate debate can be very intellectual at times, all about economic systems and science we don't understand. This makes it about us, our neighbors and about doing the right thing," explained Eric Sapp, American Values Network executive director, adding how viewing climate change with a moral perspective gives the issue a broader appeal. American Values Network is a grassroots organization.
If climate change is a moral issue, then religious figures are the best people to harp on about its effects as they will be able to affect more people. Pope Francis, for instance, is leveraging his authority over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world to encourage people to care more about the environment, going as far as promising to release official papal documents on climate change.
Still, just one in 10 from the respondents view the pope as an authority figure on climate change, garnering about the same level of trust as Republicans and Democrats in Congress and lower than President Barack Obama's. According to the respondents, scientists from the United Nations and Bill Nye "The Science Guy" are better faces of authority where climate change is involved compared to politicians in the U.S.
Although many Americans believe that climate change is a moral issue, it is yet to be seen if associating climate change with moral beliefs will be effective in getting more people to cut back on carbon emissions by modifying their lifestyles and supporting government efforts at weaning off fossil fuels.
The poll was conducted between Feb. 13 and 25, with results weighed against the current population of the U.S. based on age, gender, ethnicity and education. Credibility interval for the poll, which measures precision levels in the survey, are at plus/minus 2.1 percentage points.