When it comes to climate change, Americans aren't exactly hot and bothered.
A Gallup survey released Wednesday finds that climate change ranks almost dead last on a list of 15 national priorities, slightly ahead of "race relations." Just 24 percent of respondents said that they worry about climate change a "great deal," while 26 percent said they worry about it a "fair amount." A full 56 percent of respondents said they only worry about climate change "a little" or "not at all."
According to the survey, the findings mark "the lowest level of worry about the environment more broadly since Gallup began measuring this in 2001. Americans were most concerned about the environment in 2007, when 43% worried a great deal."
Concern about the quality of the environment largely breaks down along party lines. While 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents listed the environment as a priority, just 16 percent of Republicans and those who lean Republican felt the same way.
Public indifference aside, climate change remains a dire concern in both the scientific and global political communities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international forum of scientists and policymakers, recently issued a detailed report outlining the dramatic likely consequences of unchecked climate change. In spite of the apparent risks, however, the United States continues to lag behind other countries in addressing the issue.
Still, some American policymakers appear to view climate change as a pressing matter. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) recently described climate change as "the worst problem facing the world today," and Senate leaders this week held an all-night session to address the issue.
The Gallup survey was conducted March 6-9 among 513 adults.