Welcome to the big kids table America!
A new national survey released by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that about 70% of Americans believe global warming is happening – a 12% rise from the previous survey. According to Congressional rules, that’s a supermajority!
Furthermore, the survey discovered that of those who do acknowledge the reality of global warming, more are either “very” or “extremely” certain that it is happening, versus those who don’t believe in global warming who are starting to falter in their own disbelief.
Across the board, more Americans increasingly understand that climate change is a threat to current and future generations as well as happening in present time.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly why people’s attitudes are changing – more study is needed to discern that – but they wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with all the weird, extreme, record-breaking weather events happening around the country.
Even more exciting is to see that more Americans are trusting scientists. While it’s generally accepted in climate-nerd circles that at least 97% of credible climate scientists conclude climate change is happening, human-caused, and likely to pose serious consequences, the public has been mistrustful of this factoid due to the industry spewing disinformation propaganda faster than babies’ ability to projectile vomit to stimulate uncertainty.
In fact, the trend is reversing and on an upswing. The report states,
“Understanding of scientific agreement about the existence of global warming today appears to be on the rise. 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.” (graph below)
While 3 out of 4 people (74%) trust climate scientists as a major source of information, a majority of the public (67%) also trust scientists who do not specialize in climate. Remember people, just because your uncle is an “expert” on weather prediction based on how badly his bum knee is acting up does not make him an expert on climatology.
I can’t help but think that in this way the US comes off like a toddler proud to pour their own drink by themselves, or a teenager taking the first solo drive after obtaining their license, or an “adult” passing the milestone of paying their own bills – everyone’s proud of you for reaching that point finally, although slightly artificially so because the reality is that discovery has been commonplace for the rest of the world for years.
And while more Americans are accepting the facts, this does not immediately translate into effective climate policy or action. Considering the presidential candidates didn’t mention global warming once after rambling on about off-shore oil, “clean” coal, and unconventional gas development (aka fracking), we’ve still got a long way to go. Unfortunately, our slow realization may come too late.