Americans Don't Care As Much About Climate Change: New Poll

Do these Americans care about climate change? Image: Hector Alejandro via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Stop if you've heard this one before: Americans don't care as much about global warming as they used to, a new poll says. The poll, known colloquially as "every single climate poll done since that Al Gore movie came out," finds that, in fact, climate change is no longer our top environmental concern at all. It now ranks a distant second to air and water pollution as the planet's most problematic environmental woe.

Here's the Washington Post, in a story about their own poll:

Climate change no longer ranks first on the list of what Americans see as the world’s biggest environmental problem, according to a new Washington Post-Stanford University poll.

Just 18 percent of those polled name it as their top environmental concern. That compares with 33 percent who said so in 2007, amid publicity about a major U.N. climate report and Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary about global warming. Today, 29 percent identify water and air pollution as the world’s most pressing environmental issue.

The story then goes on to quote a bunch of people who no longer care about climate change. Here are some of the apathetic:
"I really don’t give it a thought,” said Wendy Stewart, a 46-year-old bookkeeper in New York. Although she thinks warmer winters and summers are signs of climate change, she has noticed that political leaders don’t bring up the subject. “I’ve never heard them speak on global warming,” she said. “I’ve never heard them elaborate on it.”

Michael Joseph, 20, a student at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, said he sees extreme weather-related events such as the Colorado wildfires and the derecho storm that struck Washington on Friday as “having something to do with climate change.” But, like Stewart, he added, “I don’t really hear about it that much.”

Refreshingly, the Post also interviews some everymen (not just climate wonks, I swear!) who wish Obama would lead on the issue. The poll also reveals that most people still support government action on climate change. So there's that.

Hmm, so why the precipitous decline in perceptions about the urgency of the climate problem? It couldn't be that few public figures are really willing to discuss it much, could it? Or that our media is terrified of even mentioning it in a news story? Nah, it's probably because it's a hoax, and people are wising up!

Tags: Global Climate Change