Public opinion on warming is changing. Suddenly many people now accept climate change as real and that it is caused by humans. And this is happening more rapidly than I realized. I first began to think about this a couple of days ago when I re-read an old essay in the Guardian.
This Guardian article, published in May of 2013, said that 97% of scientists agree climate change is man-made but there was still a gaping chasm between the scientific consensus and the public perception of climate change. This was very true only six or seven years ago.
In 2013 when the Guardian article was written, only 42% of Americans believed climate change was caused by humans.
And in 2013 many sociologists felt that telling the public how confident scientists were that climate change was real and that it was caused by humans would not convince the public of these things.
In 2013, Professor Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University, said that telling the public about scientific unanimity on climate change would have no effect on pubic opinion or convince anyone that action was needed.
Maybe it wasn’t the knowledge that almost all scientists believe climate change is real convinced the American public, but something certainly did.
Now-a-days, that gap between the 97% of scientists who agree that humans caused climate change and the public belief on this is considerably smaller.
In 2019, 80% of Americans believed that climate change is caused by humans.
Public opinion on the human causes of climate change went from 42% agreement to 80% agreement in six years.
A November 27, 2019 poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed this. This poll said that 80% of Americans believe that humans caused climate change.
“The Washington Post / Kaiser Foundation poll finds that a strong majority of Americans — about 8 in 10 — say that human activity is fueling climate change, and roughly half believe action is urgently needed within the next decade if humanity is to avert its worst effects. Nearly 4 in 10 now say climate change is a “crisis,” up from less than a quarter five years ago.”
And rather surprisingly, a New York Times article on August 2, 2019 said that:
“Nearly 60 percent of Republicans between the ages of 23 and 38 say that climate change is having an effect on the United States, and 36 percent believe humans are the cause. That’s about double the numbers of Republicans over age 52.”
That young Republicans, of all people, are actually saying this is pretty encouraging.
It looks to me that something out there is actually beginning to change. Something is causing Americans to change their minds about climate change.
I guess the real question is, will this have an effect on the 2020 presidential election or not? If enough people feel that climate change is a real threat, then maybe there is a chance of stopping it.
More reading on this subject
Many people now accept climate change. In 2019, a new study showed that In about 80% of Americans believed that climate change is caused by humans. Back in 2013 on 42% of Americans believed this.