Friday, February 15, 2019

US Polls Reveal Increased Acceptance of Climate Change Alongside Entrenched Republican Ignorance

Although surveys indicate that Americans are increasingly concerned about climate change they also reveal Republicans are increasingly estranged from the facts.

In 2015 the polls suggested that support for climate denial was waning. In 2016 a survey showed that Republican voters were slowly coming around to a more fact based understanding of climate change.

More recent studies suggest we are seeing rapidly changing attitudes on the subject of climate change. According to a December 2018 study by Yale University and George Mason University, 72 percent of Americans say that global warming is "personally important" to them. This is an increase of 9 percentage points from March of 2018. Over the same time frames 8 percent more Americans have become "very worried" about climate change.  Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and one of the survey’s co-investigators told Verge, "We’ve never seen a shift like that before."

Almost 80 percent of Americans (78%) believe the world’s climate is undergoing a change that is causing more extreme weather patterns and sea level rise. That is an increase of 8 points since the end of 2015. This is among the finding in a Monmouth poll at the end of last year.  The survey also found  that 64 percent of Republicans share this view representing a 15-point jump from 2015.

Another poll found that 70 percent of Americans think climate change is real and 48 percent find the science on climate change to be more persuasive than it was five years ago. This was among the findings from a November 2018 survey of Americans by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press -NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

This survey suggests that nearly half of Americans are more convinced than they were five years ago about the veracity of climate change. Despite the growing acceptance of the facts in the general population the gulf separating the two parties appears to be growing. Far more Democrats than Republicans embrace climate science. Although 86 percent of Democrats say climate change is happening, only 52 percent of Republicans feel the same way (70% of Independents share this view).

Republicans appear to be rejecting science in ever greater numbers. Over the last decade there has been a 22 percent decrease in the number of Republicans that think environmental regulations are worth the cost (58% in 2007 and 36% in 2017). More than two times as many Democrats favor prioritizing environmental protections and renewable energy (68% of Democrats vs 32% of Republicans).

In 2001 roughly the same percentage of both parties supported government spending on scientific research. However, an April 2017 Pew poll found that this has changed dramatically. Democrats are far more supportive of government investments in scientific research (60% vs 33%).

According to a Pew Survey on the 2017 March for Science, the young (18-29) are more likely than the old (65+) to support the goals of science advocates (53% vs 36%) and support science in civic affairs (72% vs 47%).

Republican Voters at Odds with Trump's Climate Denial

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