Green Cities

Global Warming’s Six Indias

A study conducted by Anthony Leiserowitz in 2011 identified six different views on how Indians view climate change: informed, experienced, undecided, unconcerned, indifferent and lastly the disengaged. This study interviewed Indians from around the country to partake in a survey regarding opinions on global warming and environmental policies.

The informed group comprises approximately 19 percent of the Indian population—they are the wealthiest group among the six. Furthermore, they are strong believers in global warming and believe that within 20 years, we will feel strong impacts of global warming. This group also accepts that climate change is human-induced and as a result, they support government policies that aim to reduce India’s carbon footprint

Next we have the experienced group. These men and women are on average the poorest and most religious of the six groups. They heavily support environmental policies because they are directly affected by global warming. Though many in this group do not know the definition of global warming, when they were provided with a short description they agree that it is human-induced and that it affects each of their lives. They also feel that global warming will begin to impact India within 20 years.

The undecided have very little knowledge of global warming but when provided with a brief description they all agreed to its existence. This group is mainly comprised of middle class men. They generally believe it’s from natural causes though they are still worried about how it will affect them. Many of the undecided have not yet felt the impact of global warming.

The unconcerned are not aware of global warming, as only about a quarter of the group were able to identify global warming when provided with a brief description. Most of them agree on its existence, however they are split on whether it is caused by human activities or if it is a natural phenomenon. Only a quarter of the unconcerned believe that they have been impacted by global warming and although they aren’t very concerned, they believe that India will be impacted by global warming within the next 20 to 30 years.

Only one fifth of the indifferent knew about global warming and even when provided with a brief description, only around half believed that global warming is happening and they are even more split when asked if it is caused by human activity. Furthermore only one in three believe that they have been affected by global warming. This group believes it will take 50 years before India will suffer from global warming. They are also opposed to pro-environment policies and are the least religious among the groups.

And lastly we have the disengaged. This group does not know or are completely disengaged with the topic of climate change in general. They have very few opinions on climate change as a topic. This group is disproportionately female, while also coming from rural areas and tribes.

India is a large country with the potential to make a very large, positive effect on the world’s climate. Efforts to improve India’s climate awareness are beneficial on both a national and global scale. India is also very susceptible to the effects of climate change—suffering greatly from droughts, changing rainfall patterns and glacial melting. The study highlights the need to greater knowledge of environmental issues throughout India. Climate literacy allows for people to make informed lifestyle choices—from water usage to recycling and green technology to renewable energy—that will make India a leader.

Nicholas Piccioni, Intern