India – generally regarded among the world's most polluted countries – is actually leading in public awareness about the hazards of global warming, even as many Americans continue to question the threat of climate change, according to a global survey by Time magazine.
Of the six countries polled, Indians emerged the likeliest to express deep concern about energy waste and conspicuous consumption, and were the most committed to conservation and the most optimistic about their ability to reduce emissions.
More than 9 in 10 Indians said that conservation issues were "very important" to them, compared to 68 per cent overall, the US news magazine's survey about attitudes toward energy found.
Indians were more than twice as willing to pay more for clean energy as residents of Brazil, Germany, Turkey, South Korea or the US.
"Each of these countries has moved to minimise their environmental footprint in different ways," the Time survey noted. "Germans are in the habit of powering down their computers. Brazilians are assiduous about switching off lights. The US leads the way in recycling.
"But Indians reported the most comprehensive approach to energy conservation, with 8 in 10 Indians reporting that they have altered their personal habits to curb consumption," the survey said.
Those changes include several simple tasks that go a long way toward cutting both costs and carbon emissions. "Indians are the likeliest of the six nations surveyed to carpool, take public transportation, and walk rather than ride in a vehicle.
''They unplug appliances from the socket when not using them more frequently than anyone else," the survey noted.
While conservation correlates with financial discipline across the six countries in the survey, "India is also unique," Time said in that "It is a burgeoning superpower with stark energy challenges.
''These systemic challenges appear to have shaped attitudes toward energy, driving both social consciousness and innovation," it said, paying an indirect tribute to the Indian attitude of 'jugaad'.
At the same time, the continuing unbridled pollution in India points to the callousness of the union and state governments to a threat to the country's future that is agitating citizens.
According to the survey, when asked what concern guides their energy habits, Indians cited minimising their environmental footprint (46 per cent) over curbing costs (34 per cent) or maximising comfort (21 per cent).
Though Indians are widely cognisant of climate issues, they're more optimistic than their peers about the world's ability to cope with the challenges, Time said.
Of the six nations surveyed by the US weekly, India was only one in which a majority was optimistic about the potential to achieve that level of cuts. More than 60 per cent of Indians said they believe the world can slash carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050, compared to 37 per cent of respondents overall.
The survey was conducted among 3,505 online respondents equally divided between the US, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, India and Korea between 10 and 22 May. The overall margin of error overall is 1.8 per cent, Time said.