Friday, July 20, 2012

Poll: Record heat wave pushes global warming acceptance

| »
Global warming

People are such a fickle breed, with everyone but the True BelieversTM changing their minds about virtually anything the moment they catch wind of conflicting evidence. For example, though an approximate and tepid 65% of poll respondents said they believed in anthropogenic global warming earlier this year (correlated here), the recent record-shattering heat wave that turned large swaths of the United States mainland into a drought-stricken wildfire arena has since pushed that number up to 70%:

In a poll taken July 12-16, 70 percent of respondents said they think the climate is changing, compared with 65 percent in a similar poll in March. Those saying it’s not taking place fell to 15 percent from 22 percent, according to data set to be released this week by the UT Energy Poll.

Following a winter of record snowfall in 2010, the public’s acceptance of climate change fell to a low of 52 percent, according to the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which was published by the Brookings Institution in Washington. After this year’s mild winter, support jumped to 65 percent, the same as that found by the UT Energy Poll in March.

Of course, those midwinter poll results would’ve been quite different if people actually understood that extreme cold weather is just as much a sign of man-caused climate change as extreme hot weather is in summer. There really needs to be more of an effort to dispel the notion that global warming is all about warmer weather, given how the point is that gradually rising average global temperatures will lead to extreme swings in weather in both directions on the thermometer. Then again, scientists are having a hard enough time even convincing people that global warming is a reality at all, so maybe this is more of a mixed blessing.

And as always, it’s all about politics:

The latest University of Texas poll also found a sharp divide between political parties, with 87 percent of Democrats saying climate change is taking place compared with 53 percent of Republicans. In March 45 percent of Republican respondents said climate change is happening.

Among independent voters, those saying temperatures are rising jumped to 72 percent in July from 60 percent in March.

Partisan affiliation is the best predictor of someone’s belief in climate change, [U-MN Prof. Barry] Rabe said.

Which certainly explains things. And as long as the Democrats remain the sole party with any remote interest in scientific reality, this trend will continue.

Cartoon [by Chan Lowe @ 07/19/12]: Skeleton in sunburned desert pointing to “IT’S A HOAX” scratched in the dirt
[Chan Lowe (07/19/12)]

(via Political Irony)