Researchers at George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) in the US state of Virginia found that environmental woes are much more interesting when linked to a public or personal health issue, according to an announcement by the university on July 19.
The new study was published in the June online edition of the peer-reviewed journal BioMed Central Public Health.
It details how Americans can be divided into six distinct groups, "the Alarmed (18% of the adult population), the Concerned (33%), the Cautious (19%), the Disengaged (12%), the Doubtful (11%), and the Dismissive (7%)" with respect to their "beliefs, behaviors and policy preferences about global warming." 4C defines these people as "Global Warming's Six Americas."
"Post-hoc analysis showed that five of the six segments responded more positively to information about the health benefits associated with mitigation-related policy actions than to information about the health risks of climate change."
Edward Maibach, the director of 4C, explained, "Re-defining climate change in public health terms should help people make [a] connection to already familiar problems such as asthma, allergies and infectious diseases;" additionally it shifts "the visualization of the issue away from remote Arctic regions and distant peoples and animals.
"The public health perspective offers a vision of a better, healthier future - not just a vision of an environmental disaster averted."
However the authors advised staying clear of specific campaigns that may "trigger counter-arguments and negative reactions," as is the case with the movement to ‘eat less meat to save the planet.'
Full study, "Reframing climate change as a public health issue: an exploratory study of public reactions": http://www.biomedcentral.com/qc/1471-2458/10/299#IDAATPUAB