The latest report from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication shows that American adults who are “alarmed” about climate change have grown from 10 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2012. At the same time, the people who are “dismissive” about climate change have halved from 16 percent in 2010 to 8 percent in 2012.
Mind you, this is data from September 2012; before superstorm Sandy made it’s own very persuasive case about global warming and consequent rising sea levels. So this report is not a case of opportunistic sampling. On the contrary, it’s a project that started in 2008 and has been tracking the opinions of same randomly selected 1,000+ Americans ever since.
In their initial study the researchers identified what they call the “Six Americas” in terms of people’s opinions on global warming. The six are Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, Doubtful and Dismissive (the percentages of each, as of Sept. 2012, are shown above).
Now while those folks who still deny the science might be alarmed by the growing number of people who are alarmed (including me), and call us alarmists, I am sticking to my position that it’s appropriate to be alarmed. I am alarmed because I have been reading the science and reporting on it for about 20 years and as much as I detest the conclusions that are being drawn, I can’t escape their veracity. To borrow a line: If you aren’t alarmed, you aren’t paying attention.
Here are a sampling of other highlights of the new report:
· For five of the Six Americas, improved public health now ranks among the top three perceived benefits of the nation taking action to reduce fossil fuel use and global warming.
· Reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating green jobs and improving the economy are also ranked among the top five benefits by all Six Americas.
· Majorities of all Six Americas say the U.S. should increase its use of renewable energy.
· In five of the six segments, larger proportions prefer to reduce, rather than increase fossil fuel use; only the Dismissive prefer to increase the nation’s use of fossil fuels.
· In every segment except the Dismissive, half or more favor the elimination of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and oppose the elimination of subsidies to renewable energy companies.
· Funding research on renewable energy, and providing tax rebates for purchases of energy-efficient vehicles and solar panels have remained popular policies among five of the Six Americas since tracking began in 2008.
· All Six Americas believe that people who share their own views on global warming have less influence than campaign contributors, fossil fuel companies, the media, etc. People who share their views are, in fact, perceived as having the least political influence by every segment.
· Four segments – the Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious and Disengaged, say that the fossil fuel industry has more influence than the renewable energy industry, while the Doubtful and Dismissive believe that renewable energy companies have more influence than fossil fuel companies.
· The Dismissive tend to believe the “liberal news media” has the strongest influence on elected officials; 50 percent say the “liberal media” affect legislators “a lot.”
There’s a lot more in the report itself. So if any of these findings intrigue you, please go straight to the source.