Climate Awareness Surging in US

January 24, 2019


Maybe it’s the disasters. Maybe it’s the change in seasons. Maybe it’s the science.

But people are waking up to climate change.

Rob Meyer in The Atlantic:

The polls suggest that public opinion about climate change is in a state of upheaval. Even as President Donald Trump has cast doubt on climate change, most Americans have rejected his position. Record numbers of Americans describe climate change as a real and present danger. Nearly a quarter of the country says they already see its tidings in their day-to-day life, saying “personal observations of weather” helped convince them of climate change’s reality.

Despite this increasing acceptance, there is no clear political path forward. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes” were needed to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius. Such a transformation would be, in other words, expensive. But almost 70 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t pay $10 every month to help cool the warming planet.

Yale Program on Climate Change Communications:

Our latest national survey finds that a large majority of Americans think global warming is happening, outnumbering those who don’t by more than 5 to 1. Americans are also growing more certain that global warming is happening and more aware that it is caused by human activities. Certainty has increased 14 percentage points since March 2015, with 51% of the public now “extremely” or “very sure” that global warming is happening. Sixty-two percent of the public now understands that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 10 points over that same time period.

  • Seven in ten Americans (73%) think global warming is happening, an increase of ten percentage points since March 2015. Only about one in seven Americans (14%) think global warming is not happening. Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it isn’t by more than a 5 to 1 ratio.
  • Americans are also increasingly certain that global warming is happening – 51% are “extremely” or “very” sure it is happening, an increase of 14 percentage points since March 2015, matching the highest level since 2008. By contrast, far fewer – 7% – are “extremely” or “very sure” global warming is not happening.

  • About six in ten Americans (62%) understand that global warming is mostly human-caused. By contrast, about one in four (23%) say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment.
  • More than half of Americans (57%) understand that most scientists agree that global warming is happening, the highest level since 2008. However, only one in five (20%) understand how strong the level of consensus among scientists is (i.e., that more than 90% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening).
  • About seven in ten Americans (69%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming. About three in ten (29%) are “very worried” about it – the highest level since our surveys began in 2008.
  • About seven in ten Americans are “interested” in global warming (69%). Majorities also feel “disgusted” (53%) and/or “helpless” (51%). Nearly half are “hopeful” (48%).
  • Few Americans think it’s too late to do anything about global warming (14%).
  • Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming, an increase of 15 percentage points since March 2015.
  • Nearly half of Americans (48%) think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming “right now.” The proportion who believe people are being harmed “right now” has increased by 16 percentage points since March 2015 and by nine points since our previous survey in March 2018.
  • About half or more Americans think they (49%), their family (56%), and/or people in their community (57%) will be harmed by global warming. Even more think global warming will harm people in the U.S. (65%), the world’s poor (67%), people in developing countries (68%), plant and animal species (74%), and/or future generations of people (75%).
  • About seven in ten Americans (72%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” important to them personally, while only about three in ten (28%) say it is either “not too” or “not at all” personally important. The proportion who say it is personally important has increased by 16 percentage points since March 2015, and by nine points since our previous survey in March 2018.
  • About four in ten Americans (41%) say they discuss global warming with family and friends “often” or “occasionally,” an increase of 15 percentage points since March 2015. However, more say they “rarely” or “never” discuss it (59%), although this reflects a 15-point decrease since March 2015.
  • More than half of Americans (56%) say they hear about global warming in the media at least once a month, an increase of 13 percentage points since our previous survey in March 2018.
  • Fewer than half of Americans perceive a social norm in which their friends and family expect them to take action on global warming. Forty-six percent think it is at least moderately important to their family and friends that they take action (an injunctive norm), and four in ten (40%) say their family and friends make at least a moderate effort to reduce global warming (a descriptive norm).
  • About two in three Americans (65%) think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, and three in ten think weather is being affected “a lot” (32%). About half think global warming made the 2018 wildfires in the Western U.S. (50%) and/or hurricanes Florence and Michael (49%) worse.
  • A majority of Americans are worried about harm from extreme events in their local area including extreme heat (61%), flooding (61%), droughts (58%), and/or water shortages (51%).

Atlantic again;

These changes are basically unprecedented. “We’ve not seen anything like that in the 10 years we’ve been conducting the study,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, a senior research scientist at Yale who helped oversee the poll.

It reflects a large shift, as an outright majority of Americans—a record-high number—believe that climate change could endanger their loved ones. Historically, most Americans have said that global warming “will harm people in the United States” while insisting that it would “not harm me, personally.” Now 57 percent of Americans say global warming will harm their neighbors, 56 percent say it will harm their family, and 49 percent say it will harm them personally.

These changes show up in both new polls. The AP survey found that seven out of 10 of Americans understand climate change is happening. Even more notable: A slim majority of Republicans—52 percent—understand that climate change is real. (The AP asked questions about “climate change,” while Yale polled about “global warming.” The difference in language didn’t seem to change how people replied.)

Climate change itself may be driving this remarkable shift. Nearly half of Americans say that the science supporting climate change is “more convincing” now than it was five years ago, the AP poll found. The vast majority cited “recent extreme weather events”—such as hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves—as especially persuasive.

Yet it’s not clear that Americans are willing to do anything about fighting climate change. Many economists support a carbon tax, a policy that makes polluters pay for emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Forty-four percent of Americans say they would support such a tax, according to the AP.

Inside Climate News:

In the latest survey, 48 percent of the 1,114 adults surveyed said they believed the impacts of climate change were being felt “right now” in the United States. That is up 9 percentage points since last spring and double the response recorded for the same question in early 2010.

“That is a major change,” said Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason. “And from everything I understand about the social science of how people think about climate change, it’s when they get the fact that it’s not just a polar bear problem, that’s when they come to deeply care. It’s when they come to really expect real solutions to be put forward by our national and our community leaders.”

The survey also found that 73 percent of Americans say global warming is happening, 62 percent understand that the warming is mostly caused by human activities, and 69 percent are at least “somewhat worried” about it.

13 Responses to “Climate Awareness Surging in US”

  1. Terry Donte Says:

    It is winter, it is cold. That is the extent of awareness of the data and facts.

  2. RIchard Morley Barron Says:

    Perhaps, the Emperor has no clothes after all?

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    What people need to wake up to is the fact that the plutocrats (and the Repugnant politicians they have bought) simply don’t care that people are s-l-o-w-l-y becoming “more aware” (it’s not quite a “surge” yet IMO).

    They don’t care because they are still making too much money off fossil fuels and destroying the environment.

  4. rsmurf Says:

    I don’t see it in action.

  5. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    In years past there were enough crocks for a weekly post. Denierism is becoming a losing proposition with the above trends. Not quick enough of course.
    Aside. Oz Extreme weather crushing all time heat records. Adelaide, yesterday hit 46.6 C, 115 F, previous record 45.7 C. My garden is ROASTED and dead.

  6. Keith Omelvena Says:

    “almost 70 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t pay $10 every month to help cool the warming planet.” Miserable bastards! How many burgers, or flat whites is that?

  7. indy222 Says:

    So – 70% of people agree climate change is real, and is “personally concerning” to them. Good!

    And: 70% of people refuse to pay even $10/month extra to do anything about it. And 40% refuse to pay even $1 per month. So we’re all eager now to go on record that we should “do something” about climate change – as long as somebody ELSE pays for it.

    The idea that we can make big $$ with a growing economy – and at the same time roll back climate change to the stable climate all ecosystems have evolved in – is a cruel joke on us all. Damned greenwashing of raw greed for political purposes. CO2 emissions globally need to reverse far more rapidly than can be accomodated except by de-growth, at this point. Forget those bogus doctored carbon budgets by the 2013 IPCC after doctoring by the UN political reps.

    Anyway, you know all this I expect….

    • dumboldguy Says:

      If we ALL “knew” this, we’d perhaps be doing more. Even those “rational fatalists” among us that DO know “all this” aren’t able to accomplish much because of humankind’s failings in the “thinking” department.

      It’s going to take DE-GROWTH by catastrophe and death before we really get moving. We are nattering over the recent news about accelerating ice loss in Antarctica and Greenland and oceans warning more rapidly than thought. Maybe the resulting SLR and more extreme weather in the USA will open some eyes (and pocketbooks).

      No one is talking much about what’s going on in the Horn of Africa, or at the “Third Pole” and in the subtropics, where weakening monsoons, depletion of ground water, and desertification are leading to a real food and water crisis. Pakistan, India, China, and SE Asia will soon be at each others throats.—–that’s ~3 BILLION people. THAT will be hard to ignore, especially since three countries have nukes and have been known to shoot at each other in the past.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        PS Forgot to throw Syria and Yemen in there—-where disaster has already arrived because of water scarcity, and Saudi Arabia, which has also depleted its groundwater to dangerous levels.

        • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

          I recently heard an article (BBC?) about the pollution from desalinization plants which just dump the salts-rich waste products back into the sea.

          I think I’ll go re-read Dune. 😦

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, a rereading of Dune might be fun. DO remember that Arrakis was a place that NO one would have inhabited except for spice. Sort of like Saudi Arabia and oil—-since the Saudis have used up the water, the only thing keeping them there is the oil.

            And yes, there have been articles on the damage done by dumping concentrated brine back into the ocean. But hey, they’re only killing fish, and anyone who can afford desalinization plants can afford to import their fish—-you know, globalization and providing jobs for poor people and all that (including making the rich richer, which brings to mind the need to vote for Pocahontas—she’ll get it back).

  8. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    But almost 70 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t pay $10 every month to help cool the warming planet.

    As we’ve been reminded yet again by the government shutdown, a lot of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

    Paradoxically, Global Warming is too big for most humans to worry about. It’s not personally relatable like your nephew with the meth problem, your best friend with breast cancer, your aunt with dementia, your neighbor losing his house to foreclosure, your sister’s divorce, or your stiff back that makes it difficult to sleep.

    • indy222 Says:

      ….which is exactly why the eco-friendlies constant urging for voluntary carbon footprint reductions are hopelessly inadequate and a waste of time. What few people might do that in any meaningful way, were converted back in the New Age ’70’s and the environmental movement. And so, it’s exactly why the only progress we’ll make is if we empower wise government to FORCE us to do the right thing – all of us together – so it actually will make a difference. Yeah, first we need to wise government. This whole civilization is fundamentally flawed and driving us to ruin. Easy to get away with as long as there was unspoiled wilderness left to spoil. Those days are fast disappearing.

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