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Note: This article is from Conservation Magazine, the precursor to Anthropocene Magazine. The full 14-year Conservation Magazine archive is now available here.

Who’s Feeling the Heat?

July 29, 2008


In early 2006, David Reiner from the University of Cambridge and colleagues completed surveys of citizens in the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, and Japan about their attitudes on global warming. They found that despite sharp differences in government policy, the views of the American public are remarkably similar to those in the other three countries. Americans did, however, place lower priority on the environment and global warming, and a small hard core of skeptics (<10%) still does not believe in the science of climate change. Similar preferences are manifest across a wide range of technology and fuel choices, in support of renewables, in research priorities, in basic understanding of which technologies produce or reduce carbon dioxide, and in willingness to pay for solving global warming. Americans and Europeans were both less sanguine and more cynical than the Japanese—24% of Americans and 21% of Britons believe that global warming is a problem, but their country “won’t do anything about it”—compared to only 6% of the Japanese.

This text is adapted from Reiner, D.M., et al. 2006. American Exceptionalism? Similarities and Differences in National Attitudes Toward Energy Policy and Global Warming. Environmental Science and Technology 40 (7):2093-2098.

1. Thacker, P.D., Feb.22, 2006. Climate Change and American Exceptionalism. Environmental Science and Technology Online News (

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