We Believe Global Warming is Happening, Just Not Necessarily to Us


The inverted pyramid shows we believe climate change is affecting everyone more than us. Via FiveThirtyEight

A survey of 2,164 adults by George Mason University and the Yale Project on Climate Change discovered some of the distressing ways in which we humans just can't see to think very long term: just 32 percent of the Americans surveyed believe global warming will personally harm them "a great deal" or a "moderate amount." Contrast that with the same group's opinion on the rest of the animal kingdom: nearly twice the number of respondents, or 62%, believed that plant and animal species would be harmed by climate change. In fact, as the graphic shows, people somewhat ironically believed that everyone around them - their families, communities, and countries - will be more in harm's way than they themselves. How's that for optimistic, (perhaps even magical?) thinking?Economy Dwarfs Environment...for now
The survey that the graphic is based on, conducted in September and October of 2008, found the economy to be American's biggest worry, dwarfing all others. This is not so surprising, in light of the economic implosion coming to light at that time, but also the feature of human brains that seems to make us unable to hold too many worries in our heads at once. And of course, the truth of the matter - some communities may suffer disproportionately from global warming, though there is a certain unpredictability that people can't seem to account for.

Political leaders...are you listening?
What the survey found in addition to this tendency to think of climate change in the abstract is fairly massive support for action to reduce global warming. Ninety-two percent of respondents supported more money for research into alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind; eighty-five percent wanted tax rebates for people buying energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels; and 80 percent said the government should regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Of course, those results are also in the abstract, as people tend to say they want more wind turbines and solar panels until their NIMBY instincts pop up when the equipment arrives near their back yards, and they don't mind paying a little more in taxes for clean energy, until those taxes actually happen and then they are in the streets having a tax tea party.

Belief in reality of global warming is growing
The George Mason and Yale University researchers believe their survey points out that Americans' think the reality of global warming (Sarah Palin notwithstanding) is growing - that we as a majority think it is happening, is human caused, and is a serious threat. A rising number, the researchers said, also believe the United States should do something. Conversely, less than half believe that a cap-and-trade carbon system is what we should do. And, hidden among the data sets was a statistic pointing to ongoing erosion of the public trust: only 47% of those polled trust mainstream news media to deliver reliable global warming information, while 48% trust religious leaders to do so! Via: FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right

Download the survey here.

Read more on global warming beliefs
Global Warming May Become the Instigator of WW IV
Is Global Climate Change Happening or Not? White Evangelical Christians Split on the Issue
Get Counted in the Fight Against Global Warming

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