Sunday, October 28, 2012

Some good news about global warming?

No, this isn't good news about global warming itself, but good news - better, certainly - about attitudes in the United States.

From the summary of Yale's latest report:
  • Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today.
  • For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment have declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).
  • A growing number of Americans believe global warming is already harming people both at home and abroad. Four in ten say people around the world are being harmed right now by climate change (40%, up 8 percentage points since March 2012), while 36 percent say global warming is currently harming people in the United States (up six points since March).
  • In addition, they increasingly perceive global warming as a threat to themselves (42%, up 13 points since March 2012), their families (46%, up 13 points), and/or people in their communities (48%, up 14 points). Americans also perceive global warming as a growing threat to people in the United States (57%, up 11 points since March 2012), in other modern industrialized countries (57%, up 8 points since March), and in developing countries (64%, up 12 points since March).
  • Today over half of Americans (58%) say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” - now at its highest level since November 2008.
  • For the first time since 2008, Americans are more likely to believe most scientists agree that global warming is happening than believe there is widespread disagreement on the subject (44% versus 36%, respectively). This is an increase of 9 percentage points since March 2012.

Well, this is an improvement, at least. Of course, the fact that 70% of Americans finally accept global warming is offset a bit by the fact that only half of us accept that it's primarily man-made.

And only 8% more of us believe that "most scientists agree that global warming is happening" than believe scientists haven't come to a consensus? That's just shameful. And it's an embarrassing demonstration of the power of Fox 'News' and other right-wing propaganda.

You know, as a kid, I could never understand why so many people believed tobacco companies, when it came to the health effects of smoking, rather than public health experts with no axe to grind. But it's at least as astonishing that we Americans are willing to believe big oil companies on the subject of global warming, don't you think?

In fact, given our experience with big tobacco only a few decades ago, I think it's even more astonishing that we're still this gullible now. But such corporations have learned very well how to muddy the waters. And since they've bought and paid for the entire Republican Party, it's become a badge of identity in the right-wing to disbelieve real science.

Well, I don't want to be depressing. Good news is still good news, even if it's not as good as we might have hoped. We can't wave a magic wand to change opinions. It's a long, hard slog against determined naysayers with a lot of money. But we can't afford to give up, just because it's hard.

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