Is the Greenhouse Effect or Global Warming Perceived as a Very Serious Environmental Problem? Multi-country Statistical Evidence Using Selected Demographic Variables

By Elkana Ngwenya.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

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There has been considerable debate regarding the scientific aspects of the greenhouse effect (GHE) or global warming (GW). There is a dearth of studies providing empirical evidence on individuals’ acceptance or acknowledgment of the GHE/GW as a very serious environmental problem. The fundamental research question addressed in this paper is therefore as follows: Is the GHE (or GW) perceived as a very serious environmental problem? Quantitative data from 62,772 individuals who participated in the world value surveys are analysed. The term “GWA” is coined to describe an individual who accepts/acknowledges that the GHE/GW is a serious environmental problem. Tests of differences in GWA-sm across selected demographic variables are reported. The results obtained suggest that 89.50% of the 62,772 individuals surveyed across 48 countries, are GWAs. The 95% confidence interval for this proportion ranges from 89.25% to 89.74%. A single sample t-test hypothesis test of the population proportion shows that global GWA-sm is significantly greater than 80% but less than 90%. Two sample tests of differences in GWA-sm across selected social and environmental variables suggest significant difference in GWA-sm across various socio-demographic categories. There are more GWA female than GWA males, more employed GWAs than unemployed GWAs, and fewer GWAs from poorer social classes. There are fewer GWAs in the 12–24 age cohort, fewer GWAs among students, and more GWAs among those individuals who consider environmental protection as important. These results have considerable implication on acting locally and thinking globally. In addition, these results shed some light on public attitudes towards policies such as carbon tax, emission trading schemes, environmental activism, and environmental priorities focused on achieving policy Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Keywords: Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming, Acceptance, Biodiversity, Environment, Activism

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.133-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 930.390KB).

Dr. Elkana Ngwenya

Lecturer, Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, Australian Maritime College and University of Tasmania, Launceston, Australia

I am currently analysing various waves of world value surveys and other barometric studies in order to ascertain local, regional, country, and worldwide factors that influence pro-environmental behaviour. My background is in applied economics, quantitative methods, and applied social science with particular interest in theoretical and empirical behavioural modelling. My current research interests are in ocean resource use and non-use, environmental behaviour, and the socioeconomics of aquaculture for rural livelihoods.


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