Most Americans believe that climate change is the greatest threat facing mankind

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The survey of 2,000 nationally representative Americans revealed 59% believe we can make the world completely environmentally friendly within their lifetime (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

Americans think we can make the world completely environmentally friendly by 2042 — but it’s going to take work, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 nationally representative Americans revealed 59% believe we can make the world completely environmentally friendly within their lifetime.

Of those respondents, they believe it’ll take about 22 years to make that goal happen — and 77% believe it’s only achievable if we all work together.

What does this mean? Over half of respondents said, to them, “completely environmentally friendly” meant having zero waste (57%) and running completely on renewable energy (also 57%).

That’s in addition to banning single-use plastic (52%), having more people bike or walk (39%) — and living in a carbon neutral world (37%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Cool Effect, the survey revealed a majority of respondents (70%) believe climate change is currently the greatest threat facing mankind.

Some Americans are, therefore, taking big steps to help fight climate change: a third of respondents (32%) have switched jobs or careers to work for a more sustainable company.

In addition to that, 68% have, or would be willing to, move to a more sustainable city or state, perhaps somewhere with more public transportation or green energy.

But while some respondents have made big changes, the survey also revealed a gap in understanding when it comes to something fundamental to reducing impact: carbon emissions.

While three-quarters (75%) believe it’s important to be knowledgeable about their personal carbon emissions, only a third (36%) actually know their personal carbon footprint.

Even then, 54% believe their personal carbon emissions are too small to affect climate change.

While concern for the impact of emissions is significant, and results revealed nearly 70% of respondents are familiar with carbon offsets — which help to neutralize your carbon impact when purchased — only 26% of respondents have purchased a carbon offset and would again.

“Purchasing carbon offsets is a reliable and tangible way to take measurable action against climate change, and we’ve worked to make it both accessible and affordable for consumers and businesses to calculate their carbon footprint, determine how they can reduce their emissions, then offset what remains by supporting high-quality carbon offset projects,” said Cool Effect Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships Jodi Manning.

“We often hear from consumers that their individual efforts are too small to make a difference, but that’s simply not true! Individuals are also employees and consumers. A single action can have global impact, and our collective efforts will propel the reduction of carbon emissions.”

The survey also took a deep dive into respondents’ “carbon knowledge,” looking to see how much CO2 they believe the average American emits each year (in metric tons).

According to those polled, respondents believe the average American emits 11.4 tonnes of carbon per year, when the actual average is closer to 17 tonnes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

And when asked how much they thought it would cost to offset an individual’s yearly carbon pollution, the average respondent said $207.79.

“We pride ourselves in providing consumers both the knowledge and resources to take action. Through our platform, the cost to offset an individual’s yearly footprint is significantly lower than people expect, at $138.94, or one tonne can be purchased for as little as $3.57,” said Cool Effect co-founder Dee Lawrence. “It’s clear that there is still a gap in knowledge about carbon emissions and there is still significant work to be done in the fight against climate change. The important thing is to do what you can to help the planet. You do matter!”


  1. Zero waste 57%
  2. Everything runs on renewable energy 57%
  3. A ban on single-use plastic (plastic bags, plastic straws, etc.) 52%
  4. More people bike/walk instead of drive 39%
  5. Carbon neutral 37%
  6. Less consumption of meat, more plant-based diets 32%
  7. Solar panels on homes 24%
  • Respondents were asked to select their top three

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