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Study: Global-warming skeptics more likely to be eco-friendly than alarmists

A recent study determined that climate change skeptics tend to be more eco-friendly than those most concerned about climate change. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

A recent study conducted by Cornell and the University of Michigan has researchers baffled, after finding that climate-change skeptics were more likely to engage in sustainability efforts in their everyday lives than global-warming alarmists.

Entitled "Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study" and published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the study of 600 people divided participants into three groups in accordance with their beliefs on climate change: those who were either "highly concerned," "cautiously worried," or "skeptical."

Researchers concluded that those respondents who identified as "highly concerned" were "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."

While the researchers expressed their surprise at the outcome, the paper speculated that "These results suggest that different groups may prefer different strategies for addressing climate change. 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."

The hypocrisy of climate-change alarmists has long been a political sticking point. Recently, the left-leaning Huffington Post called out the actions of well-travelled academics to who jet around giving speeches and attending conferences, saying, "Might their own carbon-profligate lifestyles undermine their moral authority to demand that coal miners, Teamsters working on oil pipelines and mining-dependent Native American tribes sacrifice their own economic well-being to fight climate change?"

Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and politician-turned-activist Al Gore have also been called out for their do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitudes toward climate change initiatives. While both have been loud advocates for worldwide action on climate change, DiCaprio has been accused of jetting around the world to parties and having New York pizza shipped to his home in California, while Gore has received wide criticism for his Nashville mansion that burns 21 times more energy than the average American home.

Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard addressed the disconnect between attitudes and behavior on climate change. He asserts that conservatives tend to value the actions of individuals over those of the state, saying of skeptics, "So while they may assert disbelief in order to stave off coercive (in their view) actions by the government, many could take pride in doing what they can do on a personal basis."


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