America’s changing attitude on climate change

Photo: go_greener_oz/Flickr

Throughout the last two decades, Americans have fluctuated in their concern over climate change but it’s only been in the past couple of years that this concern had neared 50%. Headline-grabbing natural disasters may be helping to drive up the consensus and as The Hill reported, in the Associated Press-NORC poll released last Tuesday, 48 percent of respondents said they found the science of human-induced climate change more convincing when the poll was taken in November 2018 than they did five years ago. Of those respondents, three-quarters said weather events like hurricanes, droughts and floods influenced their views, the most of any of the options polltakers presented to respondents. Eighty-three percent of those polled who believe in climate change want the federal government to take action to mitigate it, and 80 % want their state governments to act, the survey found.

Then a separate poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change revealed that more Americans perceive climate change as a personal issue. As the New York Times elaborated, 73 % of Americans polled late last year said that global warming was happening, the report found, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March. The rise in the number of Americans who say global warming is personally important to them was even sharper, jumping nine percentage points since March to 72 percent, another record over the past decade.

Why This Matters: As Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale program, explained, “People are beginning to understand that climate change is here in the United States, here in my state, in my community, affecting the people and places I care about, and now. This isn’t happening in 50 years, 100 years from now.” Hopefully, as the 2020 presidential race progresses, candidates will take these numbers to heart and offer tangible policy proposals to help reduce our emissions and prepare Americans for inevitable climate threats. Despite the fossil fuel industry’s 30-year effort to bury evidence of climate change and intimidate climate scientists, the effects of a warming planet are overwhelmingly evident and the American public wants political leaders to do something about it.

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