Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming

By surveying Americans on their climate and energy-related consumer, civic, and household and transportation behavior, researchers at Yale and George Mason University explored how people are acting (or not) on global warming.


The study finds that Americans continue to express their values and concerns about global warming more often as consumers (through purchasing decisions) than as citizens (through engaging with the political system).


Since May 2011, fewer Americans have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by buying their products.

Half of all Americans at least occasionally consider environmental impacts when making product decisions.

Consistently since 2008, only about one in ten Americans have written letters, emailed, or phoned a government official about global warming in the past 12 months.

The number of Americans who are taking a variety of energy saving actions at home and on the road has remained relatively stable over the past five years.

Half of Americans always or often set their thermostat to 68 degrees or cooler in the winter.

Few Americans always or often use public transportation or carpool, walk, or bike instead of drive.

Half of Americans have deliberately bought an energy-efficient kitchen appliance.

Most Americans say at least a few of the light bulbs in their home are CFLs.

Over time, Americans have become less likely to say that their energy-saving actions – and those of other Americans and people in other industrialized nations – can reduce global warming.

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