Seeing as Al Gore is American and CNN is in America, we might rightly think that Americans, and by inference, Canadians, are the world leaders in global warming awareness. I'm not talking about leaders like US president George W. Bush who insisted that the "only superpower on Earth" should not play a leading role in combating global warming, or like Alberta premier Ed Stelmach who is intent on developing the tar sands until the biosphere of planet Earth is cooked. I'm talking about the general population who watch the news in high definition and living colors and read the New York Times or Washington post or Toronto Star of Vancouver Sun. Surely, we must be the most aware the people in the world.
Wrong. In October 2006, the AC Nielson Company, with 42,000 employees in 100 countries, surveyed 25,408 internet users in 46 countries on all continents except the Antarctic, and came out with the following findings, in which Americans and Canadians came in near last and/or dead last. (See http://www.hk.nielsen.com/news/20070201.shtml )
I'm frankly puzzled by this. Could it be corporate funded skepticism that derailed us? Anthropocentricism? Religious dogma? The don't-worry-be-happy syndrome? I even argued with myself by saying, well, the internet is far more used per capita in the US and Canada than in, say, China or Zimbawe. A Deliverance-like hillbilly might be online posting in hunting sites and here comes the survey, and he hates Al Gore anyway, whereas a peasant in Sinkiang, China, would likely not be online at all for him to type, in Chinese of course, "Global what?" But even so, how could ANYone in the US or Canada have NEVER heard of global warming? It is just too hard to believe.
Well, believe it.
To the question "Have you heard or read anything about the issue of global warming?", a whopping 12% of Americans (the highest in the world) answered a firm "NO", and another 4% answered a waivering "Don't Know" (tantamount to "Global what?"), meaning of course "NO", adding up to 16%, translating to 300 million x 16% = 4.8 million Americans never having once heard of global warming. I didn't know there were that many hillbillies.
And of course, if a person knows nothing about global warming, he would know even less about its potentially devastating effects on life on Earth including the total desertification of the Amazon within decades, which currently holds upwards of 5 million species.
And of course, if there is no awareness, there is even less action.
This confirms for me the need for new and ever broader awareness-raising programs including my new campaign "Safeguarding Wildlife from Mass Extinction due to Global Warming".
Following are five very revealing charts from the Nielson survey. Be prepared to be ashamed.