Environment, Green living

Survey Results: How People Stay Resilient and Committed to Climate Action

February 15, 2024

In the year that saw global temperatures exceed 1.5℃ across an entire year for the first time, I conducted a survey to find out how people sustained their climate action and stayed resilient. Over 400 people responded, most of whom considered themselves to be climate activists at least some of the time (there were a few dissenting respondents, such as the person who claimed, ‘I am a strong climate sceptic with over 7,000 hours in the study of climate science’.). 

I thought it would be helpful to share the survey results with you and the strategies people use to support themselves and others in sustaining action:

1. How do you feel in response to the climate crisis?

The highest emotion people felt was ‘saddened’ (59%), followed by ‘angry’ (47%) and anxious (47%). Whilst ‘hopeful’ did come fourth (44%), it was striking that the top three emotions were negative. 

  • Can you identify with those feelings? Climate grief and anxiety are very real emotions and it’s important we acknowledge them and don’t push them away too quickly.

2. What is your first response when you hear something about the ‘climate crisis’?

Whilst there were a mixture of responses to this question, it seems that people respond proactively when they hear something about the climate crisis. The top answer selected was ‘educate myself’ (32%), followed by ‘share about the issue’ (23%). By contrast only 4% of people chose ‘carry on and don’t think too much about it’, and only 7% selected ‘acknowledge the issue but do nothing more’. 

  • Taking action when you hear about the problem is one of the very things that helps people continue to face the issues head on.

3. What do you do if you feel overwhelmed in your activism?

Interestingly, the highest response to what people do if they feel overwhelmed was to ‘focus on stories of hope’ (31%); with people then saying they ‘take regular breaks’ (26%) and connect with others who are taking action (21%). Only 11% said they don’t feel overwhelmed and only 13% said they do nothing. In respondents’ own comments, a lot was said about getting out and connecting with nature.

  • Identifying what helps our feelings of overwhelm can encourage us proactively to take those steps when we need to.

4. Are you part of any activist communities that support you?

Not surprisingly, given my personal location within the Christian sphere and therefore the people the survey was likely to reach, the community that had the highest response was ‘Church’ (44%), followed by ‘activist/campaign group’ (38%) and Eco Church (34%). Respondents also cited family and friends, and specific groups and communities that they were part of as sources of encouragement. 

  • Just 2% of people said they were not part of this kind of community, highlighting the importance of taking action alongside others, and not feeling alone in our efforts.

5. How do you stay hopeful with the ‘climate crisis’?

This was a ‘free-form’ question with no set options so it got nearly 400 different responses! Many referred to their faith and spiritual practices, such as reading the Bible and worship, and others referred to stories of hope and taking action themselves, as well as getting out into nature, as means of encouragement. There were some who felt that they had no hope left, but the majority of respondents said that these practices allowed them to maintain some hope and persevere despite the challenges.

Wherever we stand when it comes to hope, we know we must keep taking climate action because, even at this late stage, every fraction of a degree still matters. For many years my motto has been ‘many little steps in the right direction’ – and the more of us that are able to keep going, the bigger the difference we can make. I hope these survey results will stimulate your own thinking on how you too can keep persevering.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Amanda February 15, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you! This is a very helpful (and hopeful) post.

    • Reply Ruth February 15, 2024 at 5:52 pm

      Thank you so much Amanda, I’m glad you found it helpful. All the best to you.

  • Reply Guy Rowland February 15, 2024 at 8:24 pm

    At 82, I’m beginning to lose energy and am perhaps more prone to being overwhelmed than I used to be. For a long time, though, I have found I am angry at government inaction that does not match it’s rhetoric, in particular:
    – Investing in renewables instead investing in fossil fuels.
    – Facilitating unjust loans to poor countries which have to repay them at the expense health services and climate mitigation for their own people.
    – Not paying climate finance to poor countries despite COP pledges to do so for many years.

    I find rejoicing in God’s creation and praising him for it to has a positive influence on my state of mind – though I don’t just do it for that reason.

    • Reply Ruth February 26, 2024 at 8:14 pm

      That’s very understandable anger. Do keep pestering your MP and asking them to hold the government to account on their climate commitments.

  • Reply Geoff & Hope Price February 16, 2024 at 6:01 am

    Thank you so much for the lead you give in Climate Action. We’re still in touch with your parents who taught us at All Nations! Bless you for your ongoing ministry.

    • Reply Ruth February 26, 2024 at 8:12 pm

      That’s lovely – thanks!

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