Thursday, December 20, 2012

Extreme Weather is Causing More Americans to Accept Climate Change and Call for Government Action

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that amost 4 out of 5 Americans now think the globe is warming and they further believe that this constitutes a serious problem for the US if we continue with business as usual. What is most noteworthy about this study is the fact that there is increasing awareness about global warming from people who do not normally subscribe to a science driven world view. Amongst people who trust scientists only a little or not at all, (one third of those surveyed) 61 percent now say temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years. That's a substantial increase from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 percent of those with little or no trust in scientists believed the world was getting warmer.

People tend to believe what they see with their own eyes. Extreme weather events in the US are helping people to see the veracity of climate change. Follow-up interviews revealed that his burgeoning understanding is being driven by rising temperatures, floods, polar ice melt and drought. This is consistent with AP polling in 2006. Less than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, 85 percent thought temperatures were rising.

Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they thought temperatures were rising and 80 percent called it a serious problem. That's up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem.

Nearly half, 49 percent, of those surveyed called global warming not just serious but "very serious," up from 42 percent in 2009.

With 57 percent of Americans saying that they believe the US government should do something about global warming, this may breathe life into hopes for national legislation. The number of Americans who want the government to act is up 5 percent from polls taken three years earlier.

While Americans may want the President to act only 45 percent of those surveyed think he will take major action to fight climate change in his second term, 41 percent who don't think he will do anything at all.

There is still a large divide that separates Democrats and Republicans. A total of 83 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans say the world is getting warmer. And 77 percent of independents say temperatures are rising.

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