Denialism Losing Steam as Weather Gets Weirder

More Americans now “believe in” “global warming” as the press would have it:

The newest study from the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which is a biannual survey taken since fall 2008 and organized by the Brookings Institute, shows that 62% of Americans now believe that man-made climate change is occurring, and 26% do not. The others are unsure.

That is a significant rise in believers since a low in spring 2010, when only about 50% of Americans said they believed in global warming, but still down from when the survey first began, when it was at around 75%. The pollsters talked to 887 people across the country.


“In general, however, scientific studies weren’t high on the list of influences among people polled.”

Ummm… yeah. So we shouldn’t bother with that hoity-toity sciency stuff, then?

Anyway it may soon be too late to claim nothing unusual is happening. That’s what passes for good news on this front.


  1. Michael,

    And this is a surprise, why, exactly...?

    People are genetically predisposed to be reactionary, in the non-political sense of the word, and even greedy regarding their personal well being and that of their family and immediate tribe. Scientists, like you, have developed the ability to overcome that evolutionary baggage. While I desperately wish many more citizens of our world could do likewise, the harsh reality is that the vast majority of people have to touch the glowing red stove before they believe your warning that it's hot. Given the system latencies involved and the consequences of further delay, that might well be the least convenient truth imaginable.

  2. I think the answer has a lot to do with Ezra Klein's interesting book review here. Policy making (at least in the US right now, and perhaps it has always been thus) responds to two factors: intense levels of public interest, and the more private interests of those with large amounts of money and influence.

    The large money and influence is for the most part aligned against action on climate, although some of that has to eventually change (some corporations are already making a lot of money from efficiency and renewables; others stand to lose a lot if climate is not addressed).

    But public opinion, as it sways back and forth, may be the deciding factor in helping get policy action moving. There's already been some action from the Obama administration via the EPA and CAFE rules but I think that's about as far as they can go without a strong popular movement behind them...

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