February 28, 2011
Aquarium gains valuable insight into their guests’ views on global climate change and prepares to open two major exhibitions on this environmental issue
February 8, 2011—Long Beach, CA. The majority of guests visiting the nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California perceive global climate change to be a threat, according to the Global Warming’s Six Americas Survey. These results have provided valuable insight into the way Aquarium visitors view global climate change and how the institution can tailor communications on the subject.
The survey was also administered at science museums across the nation and is an audience segmentation instrument that categorizes American attitudes towards global warming into six segments based on their beliefs and opinions: alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive. The majority of guests surveyed (78 percent) fell into the “concerned” and “alarmed” segments, indicating that they perceive climate change to be a threat.
“The study by the Aquarium of the Pacific reveals vital information about their audience, including their climate change knowledge, attitudes, and their specific needs and desires for more information,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC). “These results should help the Aquarium to more effectively engage its own audience on this important issue.”
In May 2011 the Aquarium of the Pacific will open a new major gallery and exhibition on climate change. Also the new Ocean Science Center gallery will feature the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Science on a Sphere® to illustrate how sea level rise and other phenomenon will impact our planet. The new exhibition, Arctic & Antarctic: Our Polar Regions in Peril, will highlight the impacts of climate change on animals and people from these regions. Results from the survey will be used in creating messaging for those programs. “We hope that the new exhibits will give the public insight into the effects climate change has on our ocean and how they can make a difference,” said Barbara Long, Aquarium of the Pacific vice president of special projects.
The survey was conducted on 101 guests exiting the Aquarium by two interns from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) over the course of four days. “It was interesting to see the array of attitudes towards the subject,” said Kim Thompson, Aquarium intern and CSULB student. “I assumed there were believers and nonbelievers, but it’s so much more complicated. This information is critical to any organization communicating global climate change to the public if they are to do it effectively.”
Global Warming’s Six Americas is an audience identification tool created by Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, MPH, PhD, and Connie Roser-Renouf, PhD from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication (4C). It divides Americans into six segments based on their global warming beliefs, issue involvement, policy preferences, and behaviors. Organizations like the Aquarium of the Pacific can use this tool to identify their own audiences and to learn more effective ways to engage the public.
The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth largest Aquarium in the nation. It is visited by more than 1.4 million visitors annually. The Aquarium of the Pacific was the first among museums, zoos, and aquariums in the nation to register its greenhouse gases and is a leader in green practices, including its LEED® platinum Watershed classroom and its commitment to grow without increasing its carbon footprint. In 2009 the Aquarium was awarded the Super Nova Star Award by the Alliance to Save Energy for being the nation’s most energy-efficient business with revenues under $150 million.