May 15, 2008
All three U.S. presidential hopefuls have made global warming a high-profile issue in their campaigns. In this they are out of step with the broad electorate, which ranks global warming well down the scale of important issues. The public’s increasing skepticism is particularly surprising given the overwhelming air time that the press has given to the notion that global warming spells doom.
According to a new Pew Poll released last week, for the U.S. population as a whole, only 47% believe that the earth is warming due to man made causes. Democrats are likeliest to believe this (58%) and Republicans least likely (27%) with Independents split right down the middle (50%).
Although most Democrats believe man is the culprit, they don’t take the crime too seriously. When asked to prioritize global warming among the many concerns that face Americans — everything from terrorism to crime to government ethics — global warming comes in 15th out of 21. Independents take a dimmer view, ranking global warming the 18th most important issue, and Republicans rank it last, as the 21st most important.
Overall, according to a poll released in January, only 35% of Americans said global warming should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, down from 38% a year earlier.
The Pew Poll analzed public attitudes to global warming among different demographic groups. The less urban, the less the finger is pointed at man: 53% of urbanites vs 46% of suburbanites vs 37% of rural residents.
Likewise, the less young, the less that mankind is blamed: Only 37% of those 65% and over blame man, compared to 54% of those in their teens or 20s. Apart from this under-30 group, in fact, no age group has a majority that blames man.
The weakest correlation exists among education levels: 51% of those with college degrees blame man compared to 49% with some college and 43% with a high school degree.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe and author of The Deniers: The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud.