The Tide is Turning on Climate Change

If you are running for office, note that the majority of Americans think global warming is real, important, and can and should be addressed by government.

This has been happening since two elections back, when we started to see candidates threatened, if only to a limited degree, based on an untenable position on climate change. Last election cycle this became even more important as organizations like ClimateHawksVote had remarkable successes in supporting climate hawk candidates -- candidates that place climate change at the top of the list of important issues. Since then even more has happened, including changes in the way broadcast media addresses climate change (the false balance is melting away) and various and sundry activities in the US Congress (see this). All along the way polls have indicated that Americans are increasingly accepting of the consensus climate science, and increasingly concerned about climate change. Having 2014 as the warmest year on record, and all of the 10 or 15 warmest years (depending on how you like to count) having happened in the most recent decades has probably added to this.

Now, there is a new poll by the New York Times and Stanford University that shows that most Americans support "government action to curb global warming." Not only that, but a large number of Republicans, who are generally directed by their leaders to not accept climate change science, are on board as well.

According to the poll, 78% of Americans believe that global warming will be a serious problem in the future. Only 10% think it is not serious at all. Similarly, 83% of Americans indicate that global warming will be serious world wide. 56% of Americans think global warming has hurt them personally, though most of them feel it has done so to a moderate amount or "a little." 78% of Americans think global warming has not helped them. A full 85% of Americans think global warming will hurt future generations.

About 42% of those polled think that doing something in the US about global warming will help the US economy, 24% think it would be neutral, and only 30% think it would hurt.

Regarding elections, and candidates, 66% would be more likely (21% say no effect) to vote for a candidate that has a strong issue statement on global warming, saying it is real, matters, and that we need to shift to new forms of energy.

13% of Americans, by contrast, would be more likely to vote for a candidate that expresses the position that global warming is a hoax and a fraud. 67% would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

78% think greenhouse gasses should be limited.

The poll asks far more questions than I just summarized.

When these questions are asked of just Republicans, similar but weaker support for the reality of the science and the importance of taking action are found.

For example, when asked if global warming be a problem for the United States:

Of all respondents, 78% say somewhat to very serious. Of Republicans, 54% say somewhat to very serious. Also, among all respondants, among the youngest age group (18-29) 85% say somewhat to very serious, with 47% indicating very serious.

That pattern, with something close to a majority of Republicans, a strong majority of all respondents, and a very strong majority of younger respondents, stating that global warming is real, should be addressed, should require government action, and matters in their voting preferences, holds.

The bottom line is that accepting the science and calling for action is the position that will garner more support among Americans, though as expected, this does not hold for the Tea Party. A majority of Tea Party "members" do think global warming is serious, and even feel that it will hurt. But a strong majority also feel that if nothing is done to reduce global warming that this will not help future generations. A slim minority of Tea Parties would support a Climate Hawk candidate. Candidates claiming global warming is a hoax do not garner huge support from the Tea Party. But, 49% would be more likely to vote for a candidate who claims "I am not a scientist." So I guess that ploy plays.

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Greg –
I read the Times article and then wrote a comment referring to it. Looks like I'm in good company:

“I don't find this development surprising. More Americans have been victims of or witnesses to freak weather events, media coverage has improved, scientists have become more active in communicating their findings and the implications, and politicians and other public figures seem to have lost their fear of speaking out. Even the Republican evasion, “I'm not a scientist,” marks a retreat from outright denial. It's no coincidence that their video exegesis of Obama's State of the Union speech left out central passages on climate change.”…

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 02 Feb 2015 #permalink

Why should we believe any of this? Doesn't Stanford University receive $125 million from the 'fossil fuel industry'?

Shouldn't all their scientists be fired?

ExxonMobil: The world’s leading publicly traded petroleum and petrochemical company, invested up to $100 million.

Schlumberger: The world’s leading oilfield services technology company , invested up to $25 million.……

BruceC, do you understand the difference between receiving grant money and being honest about where you get it from?

Ron: And no one is tampering with and tricking us with flawed data more than people like Bjorn Lomborg, Willie Soon, Christopher Booker, Matt Ridley, Judith Curry, Mark Steyn, Steve McIntyre, et al.

Misinformation propaganda campaigns conducted by those with financial self-interests at heart are effective.

Tampering with reality? No, not so effective, except in the short term. Mother Nature will settle the score -- with penalties and interest.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Bruce C (#2) is a textbook example of the illogical lengths to which septics go to disqualify anthropogenic climate change. Recently he tried to disprove the significance of the new global heat record without an El Niño, since confirmed by the WMO, by claiming that there was an El Niño. Now he's inadvertantly trying to show that funding by the fossil fuel industry that results in a survey inimical to the industry shows that the poll was unduly influenced by fossil fuel interests. The ignorance and stupidity of the denialists appears to be unlimited.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

I have heard for years how those nasty Koch despoilers of nature ( that seems accurate as far as tar sands go ) budget so much money to curtail stories of certainty that the future is known - and hot. Disagreement with the virtuous IPCC is anti environmentalist concerns - enabling carbon pollution ( we all need to stop exhaling ; it feeds the cycle which plants use to survive ).
Doubtless we really need to get our act together. I just have trouble believing the usual rogues and scoundrels are going to solve much while trying to tax .energy use...globally. This from free trade war mongers who sanction those who dare to publicly oppose nuclear arms and participate in an international treaty to show they are not doing so.
The plot is obscure - but private ventures and governments using public monies do leave a trail..

By oldephartte (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink