As Earth Day approaches, expect a number of major polling reports on American views of global warming. I recently had a study accepted at Public Opinion Quarterly that analyzes twenty years of available polling trends on global warming, and I will be updating the analysis in the next two weeks as these most recent surveys come out. I was interested in doing the study because, despite the availability of dozens of survey studies over the past two decades, no authoritative summary of their collective findings exists. As a consequence, survey results often become an ideological Rorschach Test, with one side in the policy debate citing polls as reflective of a public demanding action on global warming, while the other side claiming that polls reveal an American citizenry unwilling to bear the economic costs of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. In the study, I wanted to try to arrive at some answers as to where the American public stands on the scientific and political dimensions of the issue, while also trying to understand how U.S. views have changed over time. Stay tuned for more details on this forthcoming study.
Speaking of new survey data, released today is the latest in a series of cross-national comparisons conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. The countries captured in this latest survey include the U.S., Australia, China, India Israel, and several developing countries. Western European countries, where there is very strong public support for action on climate change, are not included in the poll.
As the Washington Post observes (and I concur), of noticeable interest is that a strong majority of Iranians (61%), along with a majority of citizens in several other developing countries, consider climate change to be a "critical threat" compared to only 46% of Americans.