“As the level of scientific understanding is increasing, so too is the level of understanding that global warming probably isn’t going to be overly harmful to our health and welfare. Consider … the Gallup question ‘Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?’ … Since 2008, an increasing percentage of respondents (64% in the latest poll) have answered ‘no’.”
Every so often the pollsters at Gallup gather information about Americans’ feelings about global warming. They have a new release. And while each new set of numbers is perhaps interesting on its own, the real insight comes from seeing how attitudes have changed over time. And from the historical trends, it appears that more and more Americans are becoming global lukewarmers–as they should be, given the evidence.
The percentage of American’s polled that worry “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about global warming tends to bounce around based on current events (Figure 1: click for clarity). In the past decade, for example, there was a rise in “worry” from 2006–2008 corresponding to hurricane Katrina and Gore’s push of “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Fig. 1. The historical response (percentage of respondents answering “a great deal” or “a fair amount”) to the Gallup poll question “How much do you personally worry about global warming?”
A low point of “worry” was reached in 2010–2011 as the Climategate scandal illuminating scientific misbehavior among leading global warming proponents was making headlines. The rise during the past year or two comes on the heels of record high temperatures in the U.S. But overall there really isn’t much of a trend in the degree of global warming worry in America over the past 25 years or so.
Interestingly, over the past couple of years, the poll numbers show an increase in the percentage of Americans who believe that global warming has already begun and the percentage who think that humans are primarily responsible. To me, this is an indication that more American’s are coming around to understanding the basic underlying science of climate change—and this despite a lack of general “global” temperature rise over during about the past decade and a half. Climate and climate change is complicated, but nevertheless, there is still a growing pressure from human-related emissions of greenhouse gases to cause a general warming.
But as the level of scientific understanding is increasing, so too is the level of understanding that global warming probably isn’t going to be overly harmful to our health and welfare. Consider the historical response to the Gallup question “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?” After about a 10-year run with the percentage of respondents answering “yes” on the rise and those answering “no” on the decline, things turned around about 5–6 years ago (Figure 2). Since 2008, an increasing percentage of respondents (64% in the latest poll) have answered “no.”
Either the respondents are getting older, or else they feel that we are getting a better handle on the magnitude of the coming climate change and that it is not going to be catastrophic (and adaptation is an effective response).
Fig. 2. The response (percentage of respondents) to the Gallup poll question “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?”
This is starting to sound familiar. Global warming is real, humans are partly responsible, the magnitude of the change will be modest and adaptation is more effective than mitigation.
Well, by golly, that is lukewarming to a “t”.
Perhaps the real world of lukewarming makes being a lukewarmer not so lonely. It’s about time!