National Cooling to Climate

Crossposted with www.theGreenGrok.

If climate were determined by public opinion, it might seem that a global cooling trend ruled the day.

Here's the latest from the pollsters.

Belief Dropping, but Still a Majority

Recent headlines announce a dropping acceptance of climate change on the part of Americans. For example these two: "Americans' Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop" and "Americans Cooling on Climate Change, Survey Says."

The headlines are based on two new polls -- one by Gallup and the other by George Mason and Yale universities [pdf] -- that indicate a majority of Americans still accept that climate change is occurring: 53 percent (Gallup)
or 57 percent (George Mason/Yale).

But those percentages are down from results from surveys conducted in 2008: 58 percent (Gallup) and 71 percent (George Mason/Yale [pdf]).

And there's more:

  • The latest Gallup poll finds 48 percent of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, compared to 41 percent who believed this last year.
  • According to the George Mason/Yale poll, 28 percent of Americans who believe climate change is happening have become "much more sure" [pdf] of that belief over the last year while 41 percent of Americans who disbelieve climate change is real have become "much more sure" [pdf] of that belief.

Not surprisingly, disbelief is strongest among conservatives.

According to the Gallup survey, while the percentage of liberals believing that the effects of climate change are already occurring remains essentially unchanged (72 percent in 2008, 74 percent in 2010), there was a rather dramatic drop in conservatives' belief that the effects of climate change are already occurring: 50 percent in 2008 versus 30 percent in 2010.

The data on conservatives are fascinating in light of the recent rise of the Tea Party. While temperatures around most of the globe continue to be high, America has experienced a cool patch of late.

Some scientists have conjectured that it has something to do with the jet stream. But what do they know? I think it could be due to the Tea Party. With all their speechifying, finger-wagging, and chanting, they may have used up all of the nation's hot air.

Speaking of opinions and tea parties, here's a tidbit from Lewis Carroll's
Alice in Wonderland
: "Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it and yet it was certainly English.`I don't quite understand you,' she said, as politely as she could."