Little Change in Public Concern over Global Warming



As I have argued in talks and articles over the past year, the communication challenge on global warming is to create the public opinion environment where meaningful policy action can take place. This means shaping public perceptions so that global warming is considered a top tier political priority.

Until Congressional members start to see the issue showing up in polls as a perceived priority and until they start to hear more of a diverse public voice on the matter, Congress will have little incentive to make the tough political choices and trade-offs that are needed.

The communication challenge, however, remains daunting. As Pew reported in January of this year, global warming continues to rank dead last among 22 issues as a top political priority and even among Democrats, fewer than a majority (47%) rate the issue as a major political concern.

The absence of public opinion pressure on policymakers is confirmed in the latest Gallup survey released today, part of the organization's annual survey reports released on Earth Day.

[In a recent journal article, I combined several of these decades long Gallup trends with similarly worded questions from more than a dozen other survey organizations. The article provides the most complete picture of public opinion shifts on global warming over the past 20 years with these latest Gallup findings adding to that picture.]

As Gallup summarizes:

Despite the enormous attention paid to global warming over the past several years, the average American is in some ways no more worried about it than in years past. Americans do appear to have become more likely to believe global warming's effects are already taking place and that it could represent a threat to their way of life during their lifetimes. But the American public is more worried about a series of other environmental concerns than about global warming, and there has been no consistent upward trend on worry about global warming going back for two decades. Additionally, only a little more than a third of Americans say that immediate, drastic action is needed in order to maintain life as we know it on the planet.


As I recently posted, solving this perceptual gridlock on global warming will take a fundamental shift in communication strategy.

DrasticAction.gif

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less