Who is More Eco-Friendly: Climate Change Alarmists, or Skeptics?

Personal habits vs policy preferences: which is better for Earth?

Climate change alarmists are adamant in their claims that something must be done in order to save the earth from humans' pollution and waste. Their ideas often take the form of new taxes, regulations, and even in some cases prohibitions on products like cars that produce carbon dioxide emissions. One can certainly see the alleged genuineness of their intentions, but are they really making a difference in environmental responsibility?

New data says they are not, and that the climate change skeptics are actually better stewards of the environment than their alarmist counterparts. A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Michigan those highly concerned about the climate were much less likely to engage in behaviors like recycling than those who fall into the skeptic category.

Published in the April edition of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the one-year study broke 600 participants into three groups based on their level of concern about climate change: “highly concerned,” “cautiously worried,” and “skeptical.”
The “highly concerned” cluster was “most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions, whereas the ‘Skeptical’ opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors,” the researchers concluded.

Skeptics appeared to have more environmentally-conscious behaviors in their private lives by doing things like recycling, taking public transportation, using reusable shopping bags, and buying more eco-friendly items.

“Belief in climate change predicted support for government policies to combat climate change, but did not generally translate to individual-level, self-reported pro-environmental behavior,” the researchers stated in the paper.

The researchers were unsure of why this is, but one explanation is that the skeptics tend to fall into a category of people that more strongly emphasize personal responsibility for problems in the world rather than government action. Because of this, the researchers came to a rather interesting conclusion about whether the skeptics need to be convinced.

“Thus, belief in climate change does not appear to be a necessary or sufficient condition for pro-environmental behavior, indicating that changing skeptical Americans’ minds need not be a top priority for climate policymakers.”

I honestly don't find the results particularly surprising. I can't count how many times I've seen these environmentalist rallies ending with mountains of trash and destruction everywhere. Not to mention that the biggest climate alarmists, like Al Gore, live in houses that consume more electricity than multiple other homes combined.

I'll take the personal responsibility and action any day over more taxes and regulations. If people won't make these choices individually, why would more laws truly make a difference? True change starts in the heart and then proceeds to outward action. For those of us who adhere to that philosophy, let's be sure to model it for all those around us.