Just 10% Americans Dismiss Climate Change issue - Really?
From the news and political beat, you could easily think that a lot of Americans doubt the premise, facts, and urgency of dealing with the climate change crisis. Apparently that's simply not true. An authoritative new study last week gave some very encouraging news -- that is really quite surprising. Yale's Center on Climate Change Communication published the latest in their sophisticated study of public attitudes in the US.
72% of the American people are concerned about the issue. Amazingly, there is majority support, across all political lines.
The YCCCC tracks six different attitudes about climate change, twice each year, ranging from "Hugely Critical-Act Now" to "Not a Problem/ Don't Do Anything". Amazingly only 10% are in the last category. But somehow they have a disproportionate voice in certain media and in Congress.
Even more interesting, when you hear his analysis of the 10%, the "deniers" are actually driven by different concerns, not necessarily doubting the science. Some of them are just more concerned about the spectre of government or UN regulations. Really thought provoking.
I strongly recommend that you listen to Ira Flatow's NPR interview last Friday with Anthony Leiserowitz, who leads the Yale University project that just focuses on this topic. See Science Friday for the link or to download the podcase. It is only 15 minutes, but really peels back the layers of public attitudes.
So why are the doubters and deniers so shrill and loud? It may be that they realize that the science and public opinion are now clear. As Leiserowitz points out, the fears include a variety of things, including political and policy issues about governance and freedoms. Those are passionate subjects for many people. When people think their cause, values, or principles are threatened, they get scared and defensive. Backed into a corner, they may commit whatever resourcs they can muster. Groups funded by the Koch brothers, such as the Heartland Institute are trying to influence certain media and Congress. Maybe they know they are loosing the battle. Their noise, hysteria, and nonsenese may be a sign of desparation. And if they are really driven by concerns about Federal or UN control of their lives, or hatred of Al Gore, that is far more understandable than the simplistic dismissal of all climate science, such as voiced by Rick Santorum, and many of the other recent Republican candidates. Very encouraging really.
Please listen to that interview. I learned a lot from it. This is a good one to share. With better awareness that we are not alone, hopefully more people will voice their concerns politically. At some point even those we have elected to Congress should get the message.