PUHI — A recent American Psychological Association poll showed more than half of adults in the United States think climate change is an important issue. But not as many people are taking steps to reduce their contribution to climate change.
The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of APA and circulated online from Dec. 12 to 16, asking adults ages 18 to 34 to identify the most important issue to society today.
That poll reported 56% of U.S. adults agreed that climate change was an important issue, but four in 10 people admitted they haven’t made any changes in their consumption to help the environment. And 51% of U.S. adults say they don’t know where to start.
Several residents on Kaua‘i said they, too, believe climate change is an important issue, but, contrary to the study, many are taking steps to combat their contributions.
“Being here in the Pacific, we are very vulnerable here. It’s something we have to take seriously. There is no time or room to debate it,” said James Stearman, who is part of the Sustainability Kupu Vista at Kaua‘i Community College. “We need to come together to adapt, mediate and become resilient in the face of climate change.”
According to the poll, many people don’t know what steps they can take to reduce their contribution to climate change. One in four people surveyed said they didn’t have the resources like time, money or skills to make the changes. Some people are unwilling to make any changes in their behavior to reduce their contribution to climate change.
When those who have not changed their behavior were asked if anything would motivate them to reduce their contribution to climate change, 29% said nothing would motivate them to do so.
Stearman takes simple steps to help reduce his contribution, showing that changing behaviors doesn’t have to be a drastic process.
“I bike more and ride the bus more,” he said.
Mark Baltazar, the Associated Students of KCC student government president, said he sees climate change as an indicator of how humanity is impacting Earth.
“We need to realize there is a give and take,” Baltazar said. “We like to take, and take a lot. We forget to give back. If you break that equilibrium you basically set a system into chaos.”
The APA survey also took a look at “eco-anxiety,” defined as any anxiety or worry about climate change and its effects. These effects may be disproportionately having an impact on the country’s youngest adults. Nearly half of those age 18 to 34 (47%) say the stress they feel about climate change affects their daily lives, according to APA.
The association points out “climate change may be having an impact on mental health, with more than two-thirds of adults (68%) saying that they have at least a little ‘eco-anxiety.’”
None of the Kaua‘i residents who spoke with The Garden Island said they’ve suffered from eco-anxiety, but some said they do go to great lengths to do their part for the planet.
Baltazar said, “I do an audit on myself, as a consumer — what is my impact? At my own house I separate everything (for) recycling.”
KCC student Annamea Guerrero said the more she’s learning about climate change and human contributions, the more changes she’s making in her daily life, something the APA survey also explored.
In the survey, a quarter of those who have not yet made a behavior change to reduce their contribution to climate change say personally experiencing environmental impacts of climate change, like natural disasters, extreme weather conditions or seeing environmental impacts of climate change in their community, would make them want to try to reduce their contribution to climate change.
It was a recycling-focused, community-service project for Guerrero’s business class that brought her attention to actions she could take to combat climate change.
“I always keep on wishing that us students are responsible on taking care the environment and reduce anything that we actually needed to use in order to save the environment,” Guerrero said.
Teak Ruby-Ano, another student, also believes climate change is a global issue humanity is facing, and that it’s a complicated issue.
“There are a lot of organizations who are trying to find the answer or a way to kind of slow it down,” Ruby-Ano said. “I don’t particularly believe in the ideology that we have a way to stop it. It’s not something we can stop or at this point rewrite the book, but we can do our best what we can do today for the betterment for tomorrow.”
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.