March 11, 2010

Americans’ Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop

Filed under: Climate Politics

Or so reads the headline of the press release describing the results of Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ attitudes toward the environment.

Gallup summarizes their results this way:

Gallup’s annual update on Americans’ attitudes toward the environment shows a public that over the last two years has become less worried about the threat of global warming, less convinced that its effects are already happening, and more likely to believe that scientists themselves are uncertain about its occurrence.

One particularly interesting finding was this one, regarding a decline in the number of Americans who see global warming as a “serious threat.”

Gallup observes:

The shift in these views during the past two years has been particularly striking. The percentage who said global warming would pose a serious threat increased gradually from 1997 through 2008. The trend in these responses changed course last year, with slightly fewer Americans saying global warming would have a significant effect in their lifetimes. This year, that percentage is down even more, marking a six-point drop from 2009, and roughly similar to where it was nine years ago.

Another interesting result is this one, that indicates a growing number of Americans who think the threat of global warming is being exaggerated. Gallup describes their result: “48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.”

Gallup offers up this explanation for why this is happening:

The last two years have marked a general reversal in the trend of Americans’ attitudes about global warming. Most Gallup measures up to 2008 had shown increasing concern over global warming on the part of the average American, in line with what one might have expected given the high level of publicity on the topic. … [b]ut the public opinion tide turned in 2009, when several Gallup measures showed a slight retreat in public concern about global warming. This year, the downturn is even more pronounced.

Some of the shifts in Americans’ views may reflect real-world events, including the publicity surrounding allegations of scientific fraud relating to global warming evidence, and — perhaps in some parts of the country — a reflection of the record-breaking snow and cold temperatures of this past winter. Additionally, evidence from last year showed that the issue of global warming was becoming heavily partisan in nature, and it may be that the continuing doubts about global warming put forth by conservatives and others are having an effect. A forthcoming analysis here at will examine shifts in global warming attitudes in recent years among various demographic and political groups.

Looks like the American public is starting to come around to the fact that Climategate, the IPCC problems, and the general lack of warming during the past 10 to 15 years doesn’t paint a nice, tidy picture of impending global warming catastrophe. Instead, folks are realizing that pulling back the curtain reveals a much different picture of climate change than Gore et al. and other wanna-be greenhouse gas emissions regulators would have you believe.

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