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Public opinion on global warming

When I heard about the September Washington Post-ABC News poll that found only 1% of Americans see global warming as their number 1 issue for the 2008 elections, I was a bit depressed. I was reminded of it while reading some recent comments from one of our most frequent commentators, Barabajagal, where he noted that it might be more effective to focus on other, more seemingly immediate environmental concerns if we want Americans to support action to reduce pollution, global warming, etc. And that's a good point. But I did some additional research on global warming polls, and found some more encouraging news.

A new study completed by the Yale Project on Climate Change found that a majority of Americans see the need for urgent action on global warming. Here's a quote from the director of the program:

"One of the most surprising findings was the growing sense of urgency," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change and the study's principal investigator. "Nearly half of Americans now believe that global warming is either already having dangerous impacts on people around the world or will in the next 10 years—a 20-percentage-point increase since 2004. These results indicate a sea change in public opinion."

And some of the other findings:

Sixty-two percent of respondents to a national survey believe that life on earth will continue without major disruptions only if society takes immediate and drastic action to reduce global warming.

Further, 68 percent of Americans support a new international treaty requiring the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 according to the survey conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute. By comparison, the Kyoto Protocol would require the United States to cut its emissions 7 percent by the year 2012.

Nor is that study a lone voice in the wilderness. From a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll:

Most Americans blame emissions from cars and industrial plants as the primary cause of global warming and believe the United States should reduce levels even if other countries don't, a survey shows.

Fifty-six percent of poll respondents said the phenomenon of global warming has been proven, and can be largely blamed on human endeavors, such as power plants and factories[.]

So, the majority of Americans believe that global warming is happening, it's caused by mankind, and we need to do something about. Now. Which doesn't mean that it's going to be the number one concern of an equal percentage of voters going into 2008, but it does put some perspective on that 1% number, which many on the far right have been quoting repeatedly to show that Americans just don't care about global warming. Which isn't true. My hope is that Americans will, more and more, overwhelmingly support legislation and other actions to reduce carbon emissions and tackle other pressing environmental problems like pollution in the Great Lakes, etc. They should go hand in hand.

Now, compare all those opinion poll numbers to President Bush's 24% approval rating, which is the lowest of his presidency. For every 1 American that supports the President's disastrous presidency, 2 Americans want the government to do something about global warming now. Could there be a connection...?


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