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January 27, 2010

Global Warming Polls Show Shrinking Support for Action

If President Obama wants to lead our country on global warming via his State of the Union speech tonight, he'd better find some even more inspiring words, unfortunately. (Maybe from Hansen and the others in the videos from this Climate Crossroads post?) Americans are becoming less supportive of action on global warming - this according to two polls out in the past week.

A poll released today by George Mason University and Yale University shows that:
  • Only 50 percent of Americans now say they are "somewhat" or "very worried" about global warming, a 13-point decrease.
  • The percentage of Americans who think global warming is happening has declined 14 points, to 57 percent.
  • The percentage of Americans who think global warming is caused mostly by human activities dropped 10 points, to 47 percent.
The poll adds that there has been an increase in the number of Americans who think global warming will never harm people in the United States or elsewhere or other species. Click here to read the release on the GMU/Yale poll.

Pew poll Another poll released earlier this week from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press echoes that sentiment as well, noting that "Among 21 social and economic issues, global warming ranks last as a top priority to Americans, who view it as increasingly less urgent...Just 28% of the 1,504 adults surveyed consider 'dealing with global warming' a top priority, down from 38% three years ago." (see the graphic from Pew at the left, click to see it larger)

Things look slightly better if the question is phrased as whether "protecting the environment" is important - that comes in 16th on the list of issues.

What's the deal?
The Yale and George Mason folks thinks some of it is attributed to the hacked climate change scientist emails from late last year. Despite the emails having been proven to show no impact on the reality of global warming, many Americans still seem to think that global warming is either not real, or that it's not caused by humans.

This gives President Obama and other climate and clean energy champs in Congress a long road to travel if we expect much action on global warming. Climate legislation is stalling in Congress, and even the Environmental Protection Agency's Supreme-Court-ordered-mandate to regulate global warming pollution is under attack by a resolution from Senator Lisa Murkowski and 37 other senators.

Don't worry - there is some bright news, in the form of another poll released this month by Clean Energy Works. They surveyed 800 people in 16 states and reported that 58% of them supporting "an energy bill that limits pollution and greenhouse gas emissions through what's been called a Cap and Trade plan and also invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America."

Fifty-five percent of those polled also said they'd re-elect a legislator who supported such a bill (like those in the House who voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and those in the Senate now trying to pass a similar bill).

From Clean Energy Works' poll:
The public's desire to regulate carbon polluters is so strong that, by large margins, voters believe the EPA should act if Congress doesn’t. 
  • 59% of voters agree and just 39% disagree that "if Congress doesn't pass this energy bill,the Environmental Protection Agency should take action to regulate carbon polluters."
  • Among Independents, support for EPA action is even stronger: 61% agree and only 37% disagree.

All is not lost, folks. American wants clean energy and action against global warming. We just need to work even harder. In the words of one of the George Mason pollers:

"The scientific evidence is clear that climate change is real, human-caused and a serious threat to communities across America," said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. "The erosion in both public concern and public trust about global warming should be a clarion call for people and organizations trying to educate the public about this important issue."

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