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Gallup Poll: Public Understanding And Concern About Global Warming Keeps Rising

By Joe Romm  

"Gallup Poll: Public Understanding And Concern About Global Warming Keeps Rising"

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Gallup latest polling confirms that the public’s understanding and concern about global warming is on the rise. This matches the findings of other pollsters — see Yale Poll (10/12): “Large And Growing Majority Of Americans” Say “Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States.”

The public’s awareness that humans are the primary cause of global warming has returned to pre-2010 levels (see chart above). This awareness matches our ever-strengthening scientific understanding — see It’s “Extremely Likely That at Least 74% of Observed Warming Since 1950″ Was Manmade; It’s Highly Likely All of It Was.”

The public’s (accurate) understanding of the scientific consensus on global warming is “back above 60%”:

Gallup explains what’s probably going on:

Americans’ concerns about global warming peaked at points in the late 1980s and the late 1990s, and again between 2006 and 2008, possibly related to strong environmentalist campaigns to raise awareness of the issue at those times — including the release of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. Conversely, concerns receded in 2009 and 2010, particularly among Republicans and conservatives, corresponding with a flurry of publicity about scientists who doubt global warming is caused by human activities, as well as some controversy about global warming research. With all of this dying down somewhat in the last few years, attitudes are returning to previous levels, putting them near the long-term averages.

Gallup’s conclusion about the role of Gore’s movie matches that of academic research. As Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University described to me his 2012 study that examined the results of 6 different polling organizations over the years, “I think this should close down forever the idea that Al Gore caused the partisan polarization over climate change.”

Here is Gallup’s quarter-century polling on public concern about global warming:

Again, this matches the findings of other pollsters — see Rasmussen Poll (11/12): 68 Percent Of American Voters See Global Warming As A “Serious Problem” (up from 46% in 2009).

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15 Responses to Gallup Poll: Public Understanding And Concern About Global Warming Keeps Rising

  1. M Tucker says:

    I would love to know what the actual figures are for conservatives and Republicans on that question: How much do you personally worry about global warming? I wish they had asked those who worry a great deal if they voted for Romney.

    Too bad polls do not translate into votes. They never do. Even if the issue is boosted into prominence by an appalling slaughter of children it will have no effect on a Republican controlled Congress. Watch what happens with gun safety. Even if by some miracle the parents of the victims convince the Senate to allow a vote Boehner and the House will let it die. The House will not even take up the measure. It doesn’t matter how many Americans want something as simple as universal background checks and a stop to gun trafficking. Even if 90% of Americans what that legislation the House Republicans will thumb their noses at America with complete confidence that they will not suffer at the next election.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      On gun control, any pathetic ‘advances’ made now will, probably, be wound back by the next Thuggee President ie after 2016 (particularly if the Demopublicans nominate Clinton). I’d like to see a question, honestly answered, that asks, ‘How much do you really care when dreadful things happen to other people? And how much do you really care about what will happen to humanity after you are dead’.

  2. Leif says:

    The interesting thing for me is that the majority for Green Energy has been 50%+ for well over a decade now and still no movement of consequence in Congress. Not saying much for democracy in the USA.

    • M Tucker says:

      If we could put it to a vote of the people a carbon tax, ending subsidies for fossil fuel, a program to upgrade and integrate the electric grid and a program to replace fossil fuel electricity with renewables would probably get passed. BUT America has a representative democracy and a rule that allows the minority to control the Senate. Heck, some state Republicans want to take away the right for the public to vote for their senator. The US has a very weak form of democracy that allows special interests and minority opinion to rule the day.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        The US system was designed that way by the Founding Plutocrats, who were the rich of their day. As John Jay said, ‘Those people who own this country are going to run this country’. That’s who the political stooges ‘represent’.

  3. B Kellam says:

    The issue is still politically polarized. The best predictor of a person’s belief in anthropogenic global warming is which politcal party they affiliate themselves with. More than age, race, income level, and even level of education. In my personal opinion, there was almost certainly a backlash – or at least an increased backlash – against AGW among conservatives after Gore released his documentary.

    • wili says:

      True, but that is not the best indicator of how much alternative energy they have installed–Republicans have more solar power on their roofs than Dems do (partly because they can afford it!).

      And recent exposure to extremes, especially heatwaves, droughts and severe storms, does seem to have some effect on most peoples immediate acceptance of AGW.

      (But if this were a primary driver, Inhofe would presumably be out of office, since his state, OK, has had a particularly bad run of extreme events in the last 6 years. I have an on line friend who considers herself a climate refugee from OK–just too many close calls of fires and tornadoes recently to put her family in further risk. But she says most of her neighbors and extended family in the region are still denialists.)

  4. BobbyL says:

    And yet, almost 70% of Americans support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Either most people are failing to connect the dots or compelling arguments against the pipeline have not been made.

  5. When the public is evenly divided on an issue, a politician can always say that he is doing what his constituency wants. When the public is solidly on one side of an issue (climate change, guns, etc.) and the politicians continue to follow the opposite path, then there must be a better reason. I don’t think that the climate cowards in this congress would be mentioned in a new Profiles in Courage nor do they exemplify The Conscience of a Conservative.

    Give the Commons back to the Common Man.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      If the MSM brainwashing system has failed to convince the rabble to think like obedient serfs in the manner in which their Masters wish them to do, then the political flunkey asserts that ‘principle’ is driving him, which, in the tradition of zealots like Thatcher (Rejoice! Rejoice!) and Reagan means according to their deeply held bigotries, themselves the product of psychopathology. Then their dictatorial decisions are forced on society, either by violent coercion (miners’ strike, police riots against demonstrators, or by ‘shock and awe’ if it is the foreign enemy without)or by legislation, backed by the coercive and punitive powers of the state. The Right would certainly hope that Keystone or some other environmental disaster will provoke massive resistance, so that there can be a showdown and the Greens crushed. Thatcher labeled Greenpeace (and the ANC and Mandela) as ‘terrorists’, so you can see why the Right so adore her.

  6. David Goldstein says:

    Well, along the lines of climate change communications and what the public-at-large thinks about the issues. I have written for Huffington Post a comic fable for our times. As a writer and activist I am constantly playing with approaches to get through to folks. please check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidgoldstein/close-encounters-a-fable-_b_3033586.html?utm_hp_ref=climate-change

  7. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Given that it’s now a race between Old Ma Nature and a shrinking pool of die-hard deniers, I’m putting my shirt on the old girl. Watch these positive trends go skywards, ME

    • wili says:

      ME, again, Ma Nature is obviously not enough to do the job–otherwise OK would be the biggest hot bed of activists fighting for high carbon taxes, increased funding for renewable energy, and prosecution of ff company executives.

      Instead, it is the home of the still dearly beloved arch-denialist in the Senate, James Inhofe.

      Now this might change as they continue to get pummeled, but as long as all they are listening to is Faux News constantly telling them the GW is a hoax, they are likely to just think these are acts of God (though that itself should cause them to reflect a bit, one would think).

      Constantly reinforced ideological blinders are not easily removed even by Momma Nature in all her fury.

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        I’ll leave my bet where it is. I have seen much social change where people said it could never happen. The build-up is slow at first as the ideas wiggle through the undergrowth and then Bingo, it’s the majority view, ME

  8. Ken Barrows says:

    The last graph seems like a couple of decades of noise.