Consensus on Climate Grows Even Stronger

March 19, 2013

Above, Oklahoma farmer Clay Pope, breaks the stereotype – an Oklahoma farmer pleads with the President to recognize climate change. (this was recorded before the State of the Union address)

Anthony Leiserowitz’ “6 Americas” study on climate change awareness has become the benchmark for monitoring changes in public opinion on climate issues. There is now a new update, which tells us what some observers already suspected – climate change skepticism topped out a few years ago, and understanding of the threat is on the rise.
In this model, the populace is divided into 6 groups based on level of engagement and awareness of the climate issue.

The category that Yale Pollsters call “Dismissive” on climate change has now shrunk  to 8 percent of the population. That would be made up almost entirely of AM talk show hosts and republican congressmen.  The segment that they refer to as “alarmed” has increased to a way too low 16 percent, but moving in the right direction.

Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:

   Today we are releasing the fifth report from our latest national survey. In Global Warming’s Six Americas, September 2012 we report that the Alarmed have grown from 10 percent of the American adult population in 2010 to 16 percent in 2012. At the same time, the Dismissive have decreased in size, from 16 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2012.

As of September 2012, the largest audience segment is the Concerned (29%), who are moderately certain that global warming is occurring, harmful and human-caused; they tend to view global warming as a threat to other nations and future generations, but not as a personal threat or a threat to their community. They support societal action on climate change, but are unlikely to have engaged in political activism.

The Cautious (25%) – the second-largest group – are likely to believe that climate change is real, but are not certain, and many are uncertain about the cause. They are less worried than the Concerned, and view global warming as a distant threat. They have given little thought to the issue and are unlikely to have strongly held opinions about what, if anything, should be done.

The third largest group – the Alarmed (16%) – are very certain global warming is occurring, understand that it is human-caused and harmful, and strongly support societal action to reduce the threat. They discuss the issue more often, seek more information about it, and are more likely to act as global warming opinion leaders than the other segments. They are the most likely of the six groups to have engaged in political activism on the issue, although only about a quarter have done so.

These three groups – the Alarmed, Concerned and Cautious – currently comprise 70 percent of the American public. Although they range in certainty about the reality and dangers of climate change, they are similarly inclined to believe it is a real threat that should be addressed. Thus, some level of support for action is the predominant view among the majority of Americans.

Other highlights:

      Perceived Benefits and Costs of Reducing Fossil Fuel Use and Global Warming

·     For five of the Six Americas, improved public health now ranks among the top three perceived benefits of the nation taking action to reduce fossil fuel use and global warming.

·     Reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating green jobs and improving the economy are also ranked among the top five benefits by all Six Americas.

·     One of the least recognized benefits is improved national security, which is ranked as one of the two least likely benefits by five of the segments.  Preventing starvation and poverty worldwide were also largely unrecognized benefits, ranking within the two least likely benefits for five of the segments.

·     The drawbacks most likely to be cited were increased government regulation and higher energy prices; these were the top two drawbacks for every segment.

Support for National Policies

·     Majorities of all Six Americas say the U.S. should increase its use of renewable energy.

·     In five of the six segments, larger proportions prefer to reduce, rather than increase fossil fuel use; only the Dismissive prefer to increase the nation’s use of fossil fuels.

·     In every segment except the Dismissive, half or more favor the elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and oppose the elimination of subsidies to renewable energy companies.

·     Funding research on renewable energy, and providing tax rebates for purchases of energy-efficient vehicles and solar panels have remained popular policies among five of the Six Americas since tracking began in 2008.

 Beliefs about Who Influences Elected Officials’ Decisions about Global Warming

·     In five of the Six Americas, majorities believe that if they work with others who share their views, they can influence their elected representatives’ decisions.

·     All Six Americas, however, believe that people who share their own views on global warming have less influence than campaign contributors, fossil fuel companies, the media, etc.  People who share their views are, in fact, perceived as having the least political influence by every segment.

·     Five of the six segments believe that large campaign contributors have the strongest influence on elected officials.

·     Four segments – the Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious and Disengaged, say that the fossil fuel industry has more influence than the renewable energy industry, while the Doubtful and Dismissive believe that renewable energy companies have more influence than fossil fuel companies.

·     The Dismissive tend to believe the “liberal news media” has the strongest influence on elected officials; 50 percent say the “liberal media” affect legislators “a lot.”

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9 Responses to “Consensus on Climate Grows Even Stronger”


  1. […] Consensus on Climate Grows Even Stronger | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  2. jpgreenword Says:

    These aren’t great numbers. However, considering the efforts made to confuse the issue and create doubt – not to mention the irresponsible lack of proper coverage of climate change by the media – I can’t complain!

    We’d be better off if everyone read this blog!

  3. Wes Says:

    Unfortunately, they don’t have a category for me and many of the knowledgeable commentators I read on this and other good climate blogs, which I would call “scared shitless.” If you’re really watching the studies come in like a flood these days, you have to be. I also notice that in this study no one seems aware that the senior American commander in the Pacific has said that without a doubt climate change is our greatest national security threat.
    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2013/03/10/commander-of-u-s-forces-pacific-climate-change-is-top-threat/

    I keep thinking of the Titanic – “and the band played on.”


  4. The public was not alarmed at the state of the mortgage banking until Bush had a special news conference and scared the bejesus out of the country.

    If I was president, I would do the same thing with a climate speech – public opinion would change overnight.

    But we are supposed to be responsible adults. It is the evidence, the science which should be informing our policy, not public opinion. Public opinion can be easily manipulated if one has the will and the power to do so – just ask Exxon Mobil.

    “The consensus on global warming” ? The consensus is that 100% of climate scientists say it is occurring, it is really bloody serious, and 97% of them say we are the cause. That is is the only consensus which is important.


  5. […] Above, Oklahoma farmer Clay Pope, breaks the stereotype – an Oklahoma farmer pleads with the President to recognize climate change. (this was recorded before the State of the Union address) Anthony…  […]

  6. stephengn1 Says:

    As always, it’s a shame that half of all those polled (or those who vote) have below average intelligence.


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