Results from a recent Gallup poll are rather depressing. Based on telephone interviews with a sample of 1,012 Americans, more Americans think that the reporting on global warming is exaggerated than think its seriousness is under-estimated (41% vs. 28%). This looks like a real change since it wasn’t that long ago (2006) that the numbers were reversed. Political party affiliation helps predict how people feel about global warming. Nearly two-thirds of self-reported Republican respondents (66%) think that news reports on global warming are exaggerated. This is up from 35% in 1998, when Gallop started surveys on global warming.
It seems likely that the economic crisis has blunted people’s concern over global warming. Lydia Saad, the author of the Gallup press release writes,
Importantly, Gallup’s annual March update on the environment shows a drop in public concern about global warming across several different measures, suggesting that the global warming message may have lost some footing with Americans over the past year. Gallup has documented declines in public concern about the environment at times when other issues, such as a major economic downturn or a national crisis like 9/11, absorbed Americans’ attention. To some extent that may be true today, given the troubling state of the U.S. economy. However, the solitary drop in concern this year about global warming, among the eight specific environmental issues Gallup tested, suggests that something unique may be happening with the issue.
One wonders what exactly is going on to make Americans specifically less concerned about global warming…