Most Americans believe in climate change

2012-02-29 09:37

Washington - Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that climate change is real - the highest level in two years - as the public trusted its own observations of rising temperatures, a poll said on Tuesday.

The growing acceptance of global warming comes despite fierce political division over the issue in the world's largest economy, with proposals to mandate cuts on carbon emissions failing in Congress.

Sixty-two percent of Americans agree that there is solid evidence that the Earth's average temperature has been getting warmer over the past four decades, according to the survey by the University of Michigan's Gerald Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Twenty-six percent said they did not believe there was evidence of global warming, while the remaining 12% said they were unsure, the poll said.

In the survey, almost half of Americans who accepted global warming said that they were primarily convinced by personal observations of warmer temperature or weather changes.

Business interests

Nine of the 10 warmest years in history have taken place since 2000, according to US space agency Nasa.

Last year broke records for severe weather in the United States, with extreme events such as tornadoes and tropical storms causing more than $55bn in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The poll showed a sharp gap depending on ideology, with 78% of supporters of US President Barack Obama's Democratic Party saying there is solid evidence of climate change compared with 47% of supporters of the rival Republican Party saying so.

Some leading Republicans including candidates seeking to replace Obama doubt that human activity is causing climate change, with some lawmakers arguing that environmentalists want to hurt business interests.

The survey had found that 65% believed in climate change in 2009, with the figure slipping to 52% in 2010 amid staunch opposition in the Senate to a proposal on fighting climate change.

The latest survey took opinions by telephone of 887 US residents in December, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

  • mike.mellor1 - 2012-02-29 09:52

    Oh lordy lordy thank you, Americans are not the mishmash of inbred Appalachians and dumb Mexes we see in the movies! A simple majority of 62% are intelligent enough to know the difference between dogma and data. To extrapolate from this, the good news is that no "gays cause tornadoes" biblical bigot is likely to be elected US president this year. (The bad news is that the US is in for another 4 years of Obamaism.)

      modo - 2012-02-29 10:01

      I definitely agree with you on the first bit. It's about time people started trusting what scientists are telling them rather than the dogmatic political denialists. I disagree that another 4 years of Obama is a bad thing. Under the circumstances he has done excellently, and I think his record confirms this. What, in your eyes, has he done wrong?

  • S - 2012-02-29 11:08

    Whoa, stop right there. Confusing article. Do they believe in the existence of climate change, or global warming? Two very different things. "Nine of the 10 warmest years in history have taken place since 2000" - what absolute BS. There is ample undisputed evidence that the planet went through much warmer periods than currently, and man wasn't even around to take the blame.

  • jacques.buckle - 2012-02-29 11:52

    everything only happens in hollywood

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-29 12:39

    In their recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” a group of sixteen world-renowned scientists decry the unscientific alarmism over “global warming,” citing numerous inconvenient facts that dispute global warming claims Their message to policymakers? There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically. . . . Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of “incontrovertible” evidence. This statement follows up on the public resignation of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever from the American Physical Society (APS) in which he states: I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible

      S - 2012-02-29 13:40

      Too bad the global warming sheeple will never believe it. There's no money to be made from being a GW denialist.

      Ernst - 2012-02-29 16:02

      @Stirrer: No money to be made from Global Warming denial? Please, the reason why action hasnt been taken is that special interest groups (i.e oil coal and gas) have spent millions of dollars to disinform the public and muddy the debate about manmade global warming. These interests are worth trillions of dollars. @ludlowdj: "In their recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “No Need to Panic "About Global Warming,” a group of sixteen world-renowned scientists decry the unscientific alarmism over “global warming,” citing numerous inconvenient facts that dispute global warming claims Their message to policymakers?" The wall street journal is not a scientific, peer reviewed publication. It is therefore worthless to consult it for information. Could you please also give me the qualifications and credentials of these mentioned scientists. And seeing that you love conspiracy theories how about this one: Who are paying these scientists to disagree with the consensus on manmade global warming?

      S - 2012-02-29 16:30

      @Ernst: It is painfully obvious that you did not read the WJ article, the Trenberth rebuttal, and the rebuttal on the rebuttal. How can you have the audacity to comment on something if you don't have the foggiest idea of what it's about? That's the general problem with sheeple like you.

      bryan.seigneur - 2012-02-29 16:46

      So, 16 absent minded scientists, each with their own pet problem with fossil carbon-induced global warming were chosen by the WSJ to post an op-ed. These scientists don't even agree amongst themselves, and no else agrees with any of them, on how global warming is wrong. Meanwhile, 255 scientists who see the cohesive reality of fossil-induced warming got their op-ed rejected by WSJ. CO2 like water absorbs the IR (radiative heat) component of sunlight, keeping the air warm and planet from losing as much heat at night and at the poles. CO2 from fossil carbon burning has increased the concentration of CO2 by 40% in 200 years, and 30% has been in the last 50 years! Fossil carbon energy outlived its usefulness to us 50 years ago. We should have moved on then. Even then, the concentration of CO2 that had built up would have led to disruptions in climate. The effect of CO2 has been known for 150 years, but scientists did not dream that the rate of fossil use would spike as much as it has. They also did not in the past include the fact that CO2 warming would cause more H2O evaporation which would cause even more warming.

      bryan.seigneur - 2012-02-29 16:59

      But that's not all. We also have to worry about ocean acidification caused by excess CO2 being absorbed by the ocean. And, as warming occurs, ice packs, which used to reflect heat back into space because of their reflective bright white color, retreat, causing the ground or sea below them to absorb IR and warm up further. Plus, melting of permafrost and seafloor releases not only more CO2 but also methane (natural gas) which is a stronger greenhouse gas, which, even though it's shorter lived than CO2, helped spike temperatures in a similar way that led to the greatest extinction even in the history of the earth. We are possibly looking at catastrophe. Do not shrink from this, but realize what we can do. Efficiency is increasing by leaps and bounds, and as any accountant will tell you, is spurring our economy. Solar, wind, and batteries are growing double-digits percent per year, and improving their technology the whole way, insulating us from the cost of limited energy and putting our economy on a more firm footing for the future. We need to defund and disengage fossil carbon energy while investing in everything else (including efficiency) based on the economic merits. How? Simple, reduce the taxes on working and investment, and get the money to do so from a rising fee on fossil carbon. Fossil carbon energy is not all energy, despite what our fossil drug pushers tell us. There is efficiency, nuclear, solar, wind, battery storage, etc, and it's growing.

      bryan.seigneur - 2012-02-29 17:07

      But non-fossil energy is not growing fast enough. The total of our energy produced by fossil carbon must go down, consistently. This is the only thing that we know we can do to lower the risk of catastrophe and the magnitude of certain hardship and economic disruption. The way to let the market find the best non-fossil energy (nuke, wind, solar, batteries, but most importantly including nothing-at-all, that is, efficiency) is to simply increase the cost of fossil carbon and decrease the cost of everything else in the entire economy. The way to do this is to tax more bad fossil carbon pollution, and less good work and investment! Simple.

      Ernst - 2012-02-29 18:14

      @Stirrer: "It is painfully obvious that you did not read the WJ article, the Trenberth rebuttal, and the rebuttal on the rebuttal. How can you have the audacity to comment on something if you don't have the foggiest idea of what it's about?" First of all for sheeple like me base their opinions one the fact that 98% of climate scientists, actively publishing in peer reviewed journals, agree that there is a human fingerprint on the climatic changes we are experiencing. This is backed up by sound scientific evidence. Forensic evidence if you will. Have you ever bothered to read a peer reviewed scientific paper on this issue?

  • Paul - 2012-02-29 18:16

    Nature and its “environment” is the personification of strength and power, as even comet hits cannot kill it. Nature’s thick amour makes the environment resilient, strong and adaptive and 5.3 billion years of Earthly evolution proves it beyond any doubt. Solar gamma ray storms, polarity reversals, comet hits, volcanoes, tsunamis, forest fires, glaciers ice ages and pollution can’t knock Nature out and 26 years of climate crisis warnings proves Human CO2 is no match either to the powers of the cosmos.

  • Paul - 2012-02-29 18:16

    The planet is not dying, or sick or weak or in need of human care and so Human climate control of the planet, is something for the history books to laugh at. Climate change crisis wasn’t energy or kids planting trees. It was a specific 26 year old CO2 death warrant to billions of helpless children and science’s legal exaggeration. Science gave us the pesticides that poisoned the planet in the first place don’t forget and the world of science was solely responsible for making environmental protection necessary originally 60 years ago. REAL planet lovers are happy a crisis was avoided for whatever reason and the new denier is anyone who still thinks scientists act like it’s an emergency and anyone who still thinks anyone will vote YES for taxing the air to tame the wild weather. Pollution “IS” real. We get it, but a “crisis” from Human CO2? Not and prove it otherwise before you condemn other peoples kids to a CO2 crisis demise. Only a comet hit could be worse than a climate crisis and little tiny climate crisis’s are only in Harry Potter movies.

  • Paul - 2012-02-29 18:23

    Climate change science was a consultant’s wet dream and we fell for it. And REAL planet lovers are happy for whatever reason to have missed a crisis. “the fact that 98% of climate scientists, actively publishing in peer reviewed journals, agree that there….” BLA BLA BLA… I DID check it out and what I found was that every consensus scientists has a unique and personal and different take on the “effects” not causes of Human CO2. Almost %100 percent of consensus climate crisis science, (what’s left of it), is only on effects not causes of climate fluctuation and a solid %100 percent of all denier climate research is into causes only and all are privately and independently funded. If these hundreds of thousands of consensus scientists crying climate crisis were actually a reality, they would be the ones marching in the streets to save THEIR OWN CHILDREN too. Consensus was an exaggeration and so were the effects of Human CO2. Exaggeration trumps consensus…………………….no crisis.

      Ernst - 2012-02-29 19:02

      @Paul: Yeah. Blah Blah Blah to you too. If youre such an expert, why dont you write up your findings and submit it to a scientific journal that is subjected to the peer review process, and see if these experts agree with your views.

  • Paul - 2012-02-29 20:42

    Ernst, You sound like a bible thumper. Consensus is a huge exaggeration and I can well understand your urge to trust and believe in something but these lab coat consultants of climate science will be cursed in history for 26 years of needless panic. I challenge you to act like even YOU believe in a coming climate crisis. What could be worse? A comet hit? Or do you believe that a little tiny crisis is real outside of a Harry Potter movie? Also, how is it a crisis when the consensus you believe in and say is real, doesn't have the scientists acting like it’s a crisis either. If the scientist’s crisis was not an exaggeration, they would be marching in the streets as politically the world has walked away from climate blame and CO2 mitigation. Science has been ignored and what was the reaction from the world of science? They have doomed kids too. Exaggeration of something that can’t be proven was not a crime. You don't have to believe in this to be a good steward of the plant and after 26 years belief in climate crisis, these stale threats are more akin to being an END OF THE WORLD type. So get out there an ACT like it's what "they say" it is. Until then, we don't even believe you believe in climate change.

      Ernst - 2012-03-01 10:36

      @Paul: Paul perhaps you should read this piece that deals with "The Wall Street Journal":

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