A little after noon, before Nevada City's (2pm) 4th of July parade, I started up Broad Street with voice recorder in hand, asking the earlybird spectators what came to mind when they heard the term "global warming", and then if they indicated it was a problem, what came to mind for solutions.
Most respondents did show concern about global warming. When asked about solutions, a plurality of these suggested taking personal responsibility.
I started by the 49/20 freeway onramp, and got as far as Mill St., up by the Methodist Church.
Of the 78 substantive replies* to the "global warming thought associations" question, 53 indicated concern, 4 were mixed, and 21 rejected it.
Concerned associations included "man's greed", "my kids & their kids", "glaciers melting", "penguins", "Al Gore", "unstoppable" and "scared".
"Mixed" associations included "controversy", "it's climate change and it's a shift, not necessarily a problem", "it's warming but not caused by man."
Rejectors' associations included "weather cycles", "other planets warming", "hoax", "B.S.", "horseshit" from a Texan, "baloney", "farce", and "voodoo science".
Of about 45 "concerned" people's responses (sometimes more than one from the same person) to the "solutions?" question, the breakdown was:
10 "personal responsibility" answers ("be more environmentally aware", "reduce reuse recycle", "start a garden", ...)
7 said to shift our source of energy ("solar", "cut off fossil fuels by yesterday", "natural energy", ...)
7 gave "cut pollution" answers ("cleaner engines", "cut down pollution", ...)
6 deferred to experts ("I'm not a professor", "leave it to the scientists")
3 were hopeless ("you can't stop the world from changing")
3 didn't know.
2 suggested "root" cause fixes ( "zero population growth", "get rid of the power structure as we know it")
2 said to cut greenhouse gas emissions ("cut emissions")
2 recommended community infrastructure ( "more public transportation", "walkable")
1 suggested localization. ("have grocery stores carry only local food.")
One said both individual and community actions were needed, and one stressed that big polluters would need to be forced to stop.
* "...78 substantive replies" - of about 94 people I'd asked, 10 had declined to answer and 6 didn't know or gave off-topic answers, leaving 78.
Details of methodology:
This being Nevada County, pretty much everyone was white. I didn't break the answers down by age or gender. I don't know what percent were local, I didn't think to ask, but some were not; and at least one contingent of parade entrants came from the Sacto. valley.
I wore an innocuous T-shirt and hat, bereft of relevant insignia, and (almost always) did not engage in further questioning or other further discussion.
I only canvassed one side of the street (south) since the recorder's batteries gave out at the top. (I then started a notebook-based survey asking "north side" folks about solutions, but got sidetracked so the result is far too incomplete.)
No statistical analysis; we had too few people and the questions were too broad, and some people gave more than one answer, etc. And the size wasn't large enough to break down into "six Americas".
Some people asked what the survey was for; I told them it was to get a better view of our community's position/understanding of climate change, & ideally to cover (or form the basis for coverage) in The Union. I do think the results reveal a need for more outreach - about policy for the concerned, and about science, risk and policy for the rejectors.