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Climate Activism: A Six-Americas Analysis, December 2020


1. Global Warming's Six Americas

1.1. Six Americas December 2020

Our prior research has found that Americans can be categorized into six distinct groups – Global Warming’s Six Americas – based on their beliefs and attitudes about climate change.

The Alarmed are the most engaged, are very worried about climate change, and strongly support actions to address it. The Concerned think global warming is a significant threat but prioritize it less and are less motivated to take action. The Cautious are aware of the warming but are uncertain about its causes and are not worried about it. The Disengaged are largely unaware of global warming, while the Doubtful doubt it is happening or human-caused and perceive it as a low risk. The Dismissive do not believe the planet is warming or that it is human-caused, and they oppose most climate-friendly policies. A short Six Americas classification quiz is available to the public online.

Our most recent survey (December 2020) finds that more than half of the American public is either Alarmed about global warming (26%) or Concerned about it (29%). About one in five Americans (19%) are Cautious, while fewer are Disengaged (6%), Doubtful (12%) or Dismissive (8%) regarding global warming.

1.2. Six Americas, five-year trend

Over the past five years, the U.S. population as a whole has shifted towards the Alarmed segment. In October 2015, the Alarmed (17%) outnumbered the Dismissive (10%) by seven percentage points. As of December 2020, however, the Alarmed outnumber the Dismissive by more than 3 to 1 (26% vs. 8%), representing a major shift in these two “issue publics” most engaged with the issue of global warming and reflecting a deeper change in the political climate of climate change.