16 Nov 2009: Opinion

Apocalypse Fatigue: Losing
the Public on Climate Change

Even as the climate science becomes more definitive, polls show that public concern in the United States about global warming has been declining. What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?

by ted nordhaus and michael shellenberger

Last month, the Pew Research Center released its latest poll of public attitudes on global warming. On its face, the news was not good: Belief that global warming is occurring had declined from 71 percent in April of 2008 to 56 percent in October — an astonishing drop in just 18 months. The belief that global warming is human-caused declined from 47 percent to 36 percent.

While some pollsters questioned these numbers, the Pew statistics are consistent with the findings by Gallup in March that public concern about global warming had declined, that the number of Americans who believed that news about global warming was exaggerated had increased, and that the number of Americans who believed that the effects of global warming had already begun had declined.

The reasons offered for these declines are as varied as opinion about climate change itself. Skeptics say the gig is up: Americans have finally figured out that global warming is a hoax. Climate activists blame skeptics for sowing doubts about climate science. Pew’s Andrew Kohut, who conducted the survey, says it’s (mostly) the economy, stupid. And some folks have concluded that Americans, with our high levels of disbelief in evolution, are just too stupid or too anti-science to sort it all out.

The truth is both simpler and more complicated. It is simpler in the sense that most Americans just aren’t paying a whole lot of attention. Between
Why have Americans been supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed?
being asked about things like whether they would provide CPR to save the life of a pet (most pet owners say yes ) or whether they would allow their child to be given the swine flu vaccine (a third of parents say no), pollsters occasionally get around to asking Americans what they think about global warming. When they do, Americans find a variety of ways to tell us that they don’t think about it very much at all.

Three years after it seemed that “An Inconvenient Truth” had changed everything, it turns out that it didn’t. The current Pew survey is the latest in a series of studies suggesting that Al Gore probably had a good deal more effect upon elite opinion than public opinion.

Public opinion about global warming, it turns out, has been remarkably stable for the better part of two decades, despite the recent decline in expressed public confidence in climate science. Roughly two-thirds of Americans have consistently told pollsters that global warming is occurring. By about the same majority, most Americans agree that global warming is at least in part human-caused, with this majority roughly equally divided between those believing that warming is entirely caused by humans and those who believe it to be a combination of human and natural causes. And about the same two-thirds majority has consistently supported government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 1989.

This would be good news for action to address climate change if most Americans felt very strongly about the subject. Unfortunately, they don’t. Looking back over 20 years, only about 35 to 40 percent of the U.S. public worry about global warming “a great deal,” and only about one-third consider it a “serious personal threat.” Moreover, when asked in open-ended formats to name the most serious problems facing the country, virtually no Americans volunteer global warming. Even other environmental problems, such as air and water pollution, are often rated higher priorities by U.S. voters than global warming, which is less visible and is experienced less personally than many other problems.

What is arguably most remarkable about U.S. public opinion on global warming has been both its stability and its inelasticity in response to new developments, greater scientific understanding of the problem, and greater attention from both the media and politicians. Public opinion about global
The lesson would appear to be that apocalyptic threats are unlikely to become priority concerns.
warming has remained largely unchanged through periods of intensive media attention and periods of neglect, good economic times and bad, the relatively activist Clinton years and the skeptical Bush years. And majorities of Americans have, at least in principle, consistently supported government action to do something about global warming even if they were not entirely sold that the science was settled, suggesting that public understanding and acceptance of climate science may not be a precondition for supporting action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The more complicated questions have to do with why. Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed? Why has two decades of education and advocacy about climate change had so little discernible impact on public opinion? And why, at the height of media coverage and publicity about global warming in the years after the release of Gore’s movie, did confidence in climate science actually appear to decline?

Political psychology can help us answer these questions. First, climate change seems tailor-made to be a low priority for most people. The threat is distant in both time and space. It is difficult to visualize. And it is difficult to identify a clearly defined enemy. Coal executives may deny that global warming exists, but at the end of the day they’re just in it for a buck, not hiding in caves in Pakistan plotting new and exotic ways to kill us.

Second, the dominant climate change solutions run up against established ideologies and identities. Consider the psychological concept of “system justification.” System justification theory builds upon earlier work on ego justification and group justification to suggest that many people have a psychological need to maintain a positive view of the existing social order, whatever it may be. This need manifests itself, not surprisingly, in the strong tendency to perceive existing social relations as fair, legitimate, and desirable, even in contexts in which those relations substantively disadvantage the person involved.

Many observers have suggested that Gore’s leading role in the global warming debate has had much to do with the rising partisan polarization around the issue. And while this almost certainly has played a part, it is worth considering that there may be other significant psychological dynamics at play as well.

Dr. John Jost, a leading political psychologist at New York University, recently demonstrated that much of the partisan divide on global warming can be explained by system justification theory. Calls for economic sacrifice, major changes to our lifestyles, and the immorality of continuing “business as usual” — such as going on about the business of our daily lives in the face of looming ecological catastrophe — are almost tailor-made to trigger system justification among a substantial number of Americans.

Combine these two psychological phenomena — a low sense of imminent threat (what psychologists call low-threat salience) and system justification — and what you get is public opinion that is highly resistant to education or persuasion. Most Americans aren’t alarmed enough to pay much attention,
Americans typically give less credit to expert opinion than do the educated elites.
and efforts to raise the volume simply trigger system-justifying responses. The lesson of recent years would appear to be that apocalyptic threats — when their impacts are relatively far off in the future, difficult to imagine or visualize, and emanate from everyday activities, not an external and hostile source — are not easily acknowledged and are unlikely to become priority concerns for most people. In fact, the louder and more alarmed climate advocates become in these efforts, the more they polarize the issue, driving away a conservative or moderate for every liberal they recruit to the cause.

These same efforts to increase salience through offering increasingly dire prognosis about the fate of the planet (and humanity) have also probably undermined public confidence in climate science. Rather than galvanizing public demand for difficult and far-reaching action, apocalyptic visions of global warming disaster have led many Americans to question the science. Having been told that climate science demands that we fundamentally change our way of life, many Americans have, not surprisingly, concluded that the problem is not with their lifestyles but with what they’ve been told about the science. And in this they are not entirely wrong, insofar as some prominent climate advocates, in their zeal to promote action, have made representations about the state of climate science that go well beyond any established scientific consensus on the subject, hyping the most dire scenarios and most extreme recent studies, which are often at odds with the consensus of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

These factors predate but appear to have been exacerbated by recession. Pew’s pollster Kohut points to evidence indicating that the recession has led many Americans to prioritize economic over environmental concerns

More from Yale e360

Beyond Abstraction: Moving the Public on Climate Action
Most Americans believe climate change is a serious problem but are not committed to making the hard choices needed to deal with it. Recent research begins to explain some of the reasons why.

Using Peer Pressure as a Tool
to Promote Greener Choices

Environmentalists, utilities, and green businesses are turning to behavioral economics to find innovative ways of influencing people to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. Is this approach really good for the planet or just a fad?
and that this in turn has probably translated into greater skepticism about the scientific basis for environmental action. But notably, both the Pew and Gallup data show that the trend of rising skepticism about climate science and declining concern about global warming significantly predate the financial crisis. Pew found that from July 2006 to April 2008, prior to the recession, belief that global warming was occurring declined from 79 percent to 71 percent and belief that global warming was a very or somewhat serious problem declined from 79 percent to 73 percent. Gallup found that the percentage of Americans who believed that news of global warming was exaggerated rose from 30 percent in March of 2006 to 35 percent in March of 2008. So while these trends have accelerated over the last 18 months, they were clearly present in prior years.

Perhaps we should give the American public a little more credit. They may not know climate science very well, but they are not going to be muscled into accepting apocalyptic visions about our planetary future — or embracing calls to radically transform “our way of life” — just because environmentalists or climate scientists tell them they must. They typically give less credit to expert opinion than do educated elites, and those of us who tend to pay more attention to these questions would do well to remember that expert opinion and indeed, expert consensus, has tended to have a less sterling track record than most of us might like to admit.

At the same time, significant majorities of Americans are still prepared to support reasonable efforts to reduce carbon emissions even if they have their doubts about the science. They may be disinclined to tell pollsters that the science is settled, just as they are not inclined to tell them that evolution is more than a theory. But that doesn’t stop them from supporting the teaching of evolution in their schools. And it will not stop them from supporting policies to reduce carbon emissions — so long as the costs are reasonable and the benefits, both economic and environmental, are well-defined.

POSTED ON 16 Nov 2009 IN Biodiversity Climate Policy & Politics North America 

COMMENTS


What makes people so skeptical about global warming is that in the 70's, scientists warned of a coming ice age. What if we acted on that? Climate models predicting the future are very, very unpredictable and inaccurate. Forecasts made 10-15 years ago weren't even close to being right.

Furthermore, Al Gore refuses to allow legit scientists to debate his side, which makes it look like a money making scam. Why not have honest debate in science?

Posted by Stephen Staedtler on 16 Nov 2009


An even simpler answer is that the skeptics are waging a one-sided debate while you pretend that there is no debate.

The public sees only the skeptics telling them why, analytically, they should believe any side of the argument. They see you telling them why you have no obligation to provide them analytical reasons to believe anything.

All the kings horses and all the kings men won't put this framing back together again. You have surrendered the ground of reason and it will be very hard to claw it back.

Posted by anon on 16 Nov 2009


There is something fundamental that you are missing in your analysis. The folks that are disinterested and have not looked hard at the global warming science are the ones most likely to buy the story. On the other hand, those that have a strong interest and looked at the details more carefully, are more likely to be skeptics by a 2 to 1 margin.

When a customer is just looking but not ready to lay any money on the table their interaction with the sales person is more congenial. However, when the customer is ready to spend money on the product, the customer may get more combative and start asking tougher questions and demanding firmer answers. A good saleman realizes when this happens, he is getting close to closing.

We are at the stage where the money needs to be place on the table (in the form of legislation) so the climate change sales pitch is getting very close scrutiny. If the people who take a hard look are twice as likely to be come skeptics as believers, this does not bode well for the alarmist cause.

Posted by Sean Wise on 16 Nov 2009


It's a standard trope for conservative analysts to demand that we give the American public more credit than they deserve for their "wisdom" on issues like this. Yet the fact that the American public's belief in evolution ranks so low among countries with high levels of compulsory education demonstrates that, on issues of science, this supposed wisdom sometimes simply isn't there.

As politically incorrect as it may be to say this, on certain subjects the American public is simply ignorant, and on the climate change issue they have plenty of right-wing enablers of that ignorance who are terrified that their way of life (and the position of power they hold within it) is going to have to change.

Hand-wringing over the American public's acceptance (or not) of climate change is just as useless as worrying about whether conservative Evangelicals will ever accept evolution. What has to happen now is for far-sighted elites (of whatever political stripe, though most probably will identify to the left — a telling thing in itself) who are in clear possession of an understanding of climate science need to break trail on public policy and start making the changes that need to be made, whether opinion polls suggest the American public is ready or not. If that sounds sacrilegious, well, it's pretty much how civil rights were secured in this country.

Posted by Dave Harmon on 16 Nov 2009


The problem is not that climate change is a hoax, or whether or not humans are or are not part of the problem. The problem is that the "movement" has moved away from tangibles and moved into emotional intangibles.

Carbon, or more corrently Carbon Dioxide, is a BYPRODUCT of many systemic problems we face. Yet, the movement cares not about how to improve systems that have TANGIBLE effects on CITIZENS. It cares about how to capture and eradicate "carbon" through cap & trade, offsetting, and sequestration. All programs that make investors, clients, and voters happy, but have no direct impact on CITIZENS.

In China (where I am based), traction around the issues of urban planning, mass transit, deforestation, land management, populations, and so on are politically very easy... and all help to reduce carbon (dioxide) emissions before they need to be capped, traded, sequestered, or offset.

The programs here are not catalyzed by an emotional connection to polar bears and melting ice caps, but a tangible understanding that the systems here polluted air, water, and food... which have DIRECT impacts on CITIZENS.

So, how to get the climate talks back on track?

First, stop using climate change as if that is the CORE PROBLEM. It is a byproduct of the systems that we have come to call our economies, and if we began by calling the problems what they really are, then perhaps it would be easier to get wide support from citizens.

Second, stop using distant emotional appeals for change. Polar bears are a very appealing symbol, and are perhaps on the front lines, but if you want people to make changes.. you need to make the results of inaction tangible. Polar bears are simply not tangible.

Third, stop using catch phrases and technologies of the future as the only options. Our current systems are massively inefficient, and huge savings can be made without waiting for the price of solar to drop below the price of coal (as if comparing those two costs is somehow a fair one).

Four, negative externalities need to begin being priced into the system. Coal is only cheaper than solar because no one accounts for the increased costs of health care, water pollution, or crop damage. We need to be able to make fair comparisons, and fair judgments

Five, We need to decide what is the goal. Is the goal to develop technologies that can been scaled widely for the greatest possible impact, or is the goal green jobs for my district? Governments need to begin working together to fund IP development, and farming out manufacturing on a local basis. this will allow for local job creation while reducing the costs of development - which will reduce the cost to the market.

Finally, We need to stop telling citizens that they can go about their day, and their government will take care of it. Citizens, and changing some habits, are key to the long term viability of many programs.. and we need to begin getting people used to that idea.

The current path that we are on is clearly the wrong one, and it is time that we begin to make some changes. COP15 would have never been "the" answer, and it is going to take a lot more than some fancy accounting to begin really turning the carbon (dioxide) count back.. and that is before we even begin to tackle the MH4 issue that we face.

If we keep using "carbon" as the problem, then we will only get "cap & trade", so let's start by making "carbon" a tangible and then get started on developing real solutions to the processes that emit carbon.

r
www.cleanergreenerchina.com

Posted by Greener China on 16 Nov 2009


Response to Dave Harmon's third paragraph where he states " Hand-wringing over the what has to happen now is for far-sighted elites (of whatever political stripe, though most probably will identify to the left — a telling thing in itself) who are in clear possession of an understanding of climate science need to break trail on public policy and start making the changes that need to be made, whether opinion polls suggest the American public is ready or not."

Isn't this exactly what happenned with Waxman-Markey and what was attempted with Boxer-Kerry? Then a funny thing happened, people revolted and a solidly Democrat state elected a Republican governor.

The reality is we live in a democracy. Policies that affect peoples lives in a significant way have to be sold. If your sales pitch to interested parties is rejected by a 2:1 margin, and the leftist liberal elite lawmakers do what they think best anyway, a difficult election cycle for the incumbent party will turn into a rout. What happens to your policy then?

Posted by Sean Wise on 16 Nov 2009


"...system justification theory" is a fatuous, blind alley. The psychology could however be better explained by the body of work built on herd behaviour - an extension of Bandura's social learning theory - which is "availability and information cascades."

Lastly, it is very irritating that the media assume that the public are either misinformed or uninformed on the matter of AGW, when in actual fact it is the total and utter loss critical evaluation by myopic advocacy journalism that has led to the disconnect between what we [the public] are told and how we evaluate it.

The Lysenkoism inherent in this twisted debate is fortunately being unearthed after two decades before an entire generation has become indoctrinated by the post-modern politicisation of science.

The difficulty will now be persuading the advocates to calm down and admit to their cognitive dissonance:

“I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.” TOLSTOY.

Now that really is "system justification.

Posted by justin ert on 16 Nov 2009


On political issues where the science is relevant (e.g. health, climate change), what else than expert consensus should the policies be based on?

You state that both public opinion and public support have remained relatively unchanged during years of very different political and economic climate. However, that doesn’t lead to your stated conclusion, that “public understanding and acceptance of climate science may not be a precondition for supporting action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Rather, the conclusion should be that public opinion and public support don’t seem to depend on the economical and political climate (also quote surprising actually). I think that increased public understanding and acceptance of climate science would indeed lead to more support for emission reduction measures. Though as you also say, the problem is the low priority this issue has for many people.

Posted by Bart Verheggen on 16 Nov 2009


@ Sean:

As opposed to never enacting a credible policy at all?

And why would you assume that a public who isn't even grasping the science is going to go all single-issue on this and boot the architects out? It's possible that they will simply accept the policy even though they come to think it's flawed (see under Bush: Iraq). Sure, we live in a democracy, but on this issue, at least, it's not a democracy being driven by the accumulation of individuals exercising reflective thinking. Leadership is called for, and sure, it may be rejected — at first — but over the long haul it will prevail. It has to; we have no choice. So let's get on with it.

Posted by Dave Harmon on 16 Nov 2009


The authors adopt a pretty standard intellectual point of view: Climate change science is for certain "correct" and it is only ignorance (and/or stupidity and/or willful denial of the obvious) that causes Americans to not fully embrace this obvious truth. The authors are wrong.

The reality is that many well intentioned, smart, and technically trained individuals have invested the time needed to understand the basic technical issues, honestly evaluated the climate data and the models, and have concluded the science is both uncertain and likely wrong by a wide margin. Virtually all these people accept that greenhouse gases will (indeed must) increase the average surface temperature. What they do not believe is that the warming will be anywhere near the levels commonly predicted.

At a minimum, extreme climate change requires that many much less than certain effects are all true, so the propagated uncertainty for "catastrophic" climate change is large. Extraordinary claims that demand extraordinary public sacrifice must have extraordinary certainty. They do not have even a reasonable level of certainty.

Finally, well known climate scientists routinely hide data and methods to avoid scrutiny, and avoid direct discussion with people who doubt their projections... giving the obvious impression that they have much to hide. These scientists behave in ways that experienced technical folks recognize from their personal experience: it is the behavior of the incompetent.

Posted by Stephan Fitzpatrick on 16 Nov 2009


You asked the key question in your lead paragraph: What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?

But you didn't answer it.

You only stated that Americans would be willing to support policy to reduce carbon emissions — so long as the costs are reasonable and the benefits, both economic and environmental, are well-defined.

Given the costs likely to be involved in replacing almost all of of our systems that rely on fossil energy, this is likely to result in only weak action. Too little, too late.

Please take a shot at answering your own question.

Posted by Rick Row on 16 Nov 2009


Stephen Staedtler said "What makes people so skeptical about global warming is that in the 70's, scientists warned of a coming ice age."

Some scientists, yes, but only a small minority (http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf#page=9). However, the idea of an impending ice age nonetheless got a bit of press at the time (I believe Newsweek amongst others carried it).

Some people might be remembering such reports, but the claim that there was anything approaching even a significant minority of scientists in the 1970's trumpeting a coming ice age are simply wrong.

Posted by Geoff Tolley on 16 Nov 2009


Tragic how there's still, in 2009, piles of denialist comments after every article anywhere mentioning climate change.

Every major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better?

But lets pretend for a moment that you're right, Stephen Staedtler, Sean Wise, Stephan Fitzpatrick, and that the tens of thousands of scientists who actually spent their whole life studying the issue are wrong. The resources that you so badly seem to want us to continue burning are finite, will eventually run out, and we'll sooner or later need to switch to renewables anyway. Could we not just as well do it now, just in case.....

Posted by DT on 16 Nov 2009


You might be overcomplicating the situation. While the majority of Americans clearly do not understand the science in depth, those who have studied it in detail are not very alarmed by it and don't see CO2 as a major driving factor in relation to temperature.

Having spent upwards of 2000 hours on the subject and having read more than 400 climate papers, technically minded and interested people like me see that while CO2 may play a role, its contribution is clearly overstated, and estimates of its impact continue to decline over time as the science matures. Natural factors can and do affect temperature on a much larger scale and have played an obvious role in many past climate cool and warm periods.

Scientists who push apocalyptic scenarios and drastic "solutions" that are not economically or technically feasible, in the face of contrary evidence, simply are not believed when the historical record indicates that current temperatures, CO2 levels, sea levels, ice levels, and so forth are neither unusual nor unprecedented.

Once people understand this, they are correctly skeptical of any action that would waste their personal wealth on government mis-allocation of resources and the virtually certain side-effects of unintended consequences, when the direct effects of CO2 (energy and plant volume) are beneficial, even if there is a chance of 0.5°C warming.

Scientists have done themselves no favors for exaggerating the threat, which is easily discovered by the most casually interested individuals. Finally, corporations and lobbyists interested in legislated advantage (rent-seeking) are another major turn-off for the average American.

There is nothing unusual about the public being uncommitted. Most of us are more than willing to take actions that make sense, like being efficient with energy use. Most are not interested in committing to the current actions proposed by politicians, because they are ineffective, wasteful, and will breed corruption.

We would need interesting psychological terms, like "herd mentality" if in-fact Americans DID support any of the proposed solutions. What we have instead is just another demonstration of plain old good logic.

Posted by Michael D Smith on 17 Nov 2009


My estimate is that this is NOT about actual disbelief or scepsis - nor is it ideological christian thinking along the lines of "global warming wouldn't compute along biblical rationales".

I am pretty sure it rather is that most Americans are so dependent on fossil fuels and related infrastructures to maintain their rather inflated (or unrealistic) consumption lifestyles. Without cheap oil the U.S. transforms into a bleak semi-third world dystopia almost overnight. Every investment-, military-, or strategical benefit the U.S. has collapses in on itself if energy consumption styles are radically changed, for whatever reason.

The same resistance existed when people anticipated the end of whale oil lamps, or the end of steam engines, or the end of livestock based farming. Established infrastructures resist change, and people loathe uncertainty.

Most americans know by now that oil is no longer a longterm option - it will effectively deplete rather fast (before 2035) and it will cause significant climatic disruption. Resorting to other fossil fuel types, such as goal, will aggravate that situation well into the apocalyptic. So my guess is americans who are alive, and in their career years today, would rather see this discussion lifted beyond their grave - in the future we'll all electric cars - but the average current consuming american would rather have that whole debate postponed, and will vote for the party that has the plan (and support fom the military-industrial complex) to arrange that.

It is the intellectual sloth of the patrician Roman who more or less knows that slavery as it exists is ending, but he rather would like that to happen 'gradually', without disrupting his current creature comforts. The same Roman will strongly support strong legions stationed outside Rome, to deal with the barbarians, and to maintain a sensible flow of fresh slabe labour - Romans preferred a 'strong economy'.

Problem is that we have entered an era of overwhelming and fast change, in every realm around us , be it robotics (just watch!),m computing, nanotechnology, life extension, environmental change, warfare technology, energy, terrorism, medical treatments, cybernetics, geopolitical power, economy. What our previous generation assumed was 'revolutionary' and 'unlikely' will now happen every ten years or so, and in the near future even faster.

One wonders, does that have some sort of culmination point, a 'log-jam' of historical events? If so that might actually be in our lifetime. And that would force a lot of people to make choices they have been forcefully ignoring for quite a while now.

Posted by khannea suntzu on 17 Nov 2009


In addition to all the stated psychological and economic factors impeding the public's ability to perceive increased global temperatures and the undeniable role of combusting 100's of millions of years of carbon sequestration in a few decades, another influence on public perceptions seems to have gone unnoticed by the authors and commenters here.

Starting in the early 1990s, three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of climate change. Even though the oil industry's own scientists had declared, as early as 1995, that human-induced climate change was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal-fired electrical industry consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group called TASSC all drafted and promoted campaigns of climate change disinformation.

The success of those plans is self-evident. . . .

Although all public relations professionals are bound by a duty to not knowingly mislead the public, some have executed comprehensive campaigns of misinformation on behalf of industry clients on issues ranging from tobacco and asbestos to seat belts.

Lately, these fringe players have turned their efforts to creating confusion about climate change.

In effect, the deniers, whether paid to present false information or susceptible to the psychological rationalizations described in the article, are blocking discussion and action to mitigate global warming, and are thus complicit in the resulting devastation and death. Our rationality tends to bend to our emotions, and the best manipulators of our emotions will win the day. We’ve already succumbed to the deniers when we call it climate change. Glaciers don’t melt and coral reefs don’t die from “climate change.” The entire surface of our one and only planet is getting warmer fast, so we might want to deal with it.

The small network of majority shareholders (owners) in banking, oil, coal, auto, insurance, chemical, shipping, construction, military, media and every other major industry, afraid of losing sales, wealth and status, are driving the economic decisions that directly cause global warming and manipulating public perception to continue doing so. They operate behind layers of financial institutions and interlocking directorships while hiring CEOs to take the public heat for their decisions. As demonstrated by this article and the comments, people are so mystified by the way decisions are made in America, who actually determines where major investments are directed how that shapes public opinion, that they believe there’s some organic process toward self-destruction that can’t be stopped.

Effective adaptive action requires accurate analysis of the actual problem.

Posted by Gary Howard on 17 Nov 2009


The decline of the people's belief in climate change can be attributed to much more than just Apocalypse Fatigue. Many people realize that they are the golden goose ready to be plucked for trillions of dollars to make the environmentalists feel good, one-worlders succeed with their goals and a gaggle of climate scientists maintain their opulent life styles via their government research grants. They look at Al Gore, Prince Charles and others who demand that the
common man limit his output of carbon and accept a constricted lifestyle "for the planet" while they race around the planet spewing gargantuan quantities of CO2 and lead lifestyles that would make old King Farouk blush. We will soon all be skeptics.

Posted by derekcrane on 19 Nov 2009


Well, clearly the human race is unlikely to survive for many more generations. Why? Because obviously we would rather die (or let our children die) than give up our opinions or be proven wrong. Selfishness in our culture has become pandemic, and it will ultimately prove to be our destruction. Unless, of course, doing the right thing ultimately proves profitable. Unfortunately, history is not on our side in this matter.

In any conflict, there are always those who rise to the challenge and fight to prevail. And there are those who stick their heads in the sand and simply hope to survive, unnoticed. As long as our continued existence depends on everyone rising to the challenge, our odds of prevailing are pretty slim.

Posted by lisah on 19 Nov 2009


Perhaps the problem is that solutions to climate change are always framed as negatives. Most people would welcome a lifestyle where they spend less time in traffic, enjoy fresh, locally grown food, do less housework and have less credit card debt. Having a smaller ecological footprint means having a better standard of living, not a sacrifice.
Posted by Janet Kubler on 19 Nov 2009


"Having a smaller ecological footprint means having a better standard of living, not a sacrifice."

Janet Kubler's post is like a breath of fresh air (pun not intended).

Posted by TRB on 19 Nov 2009


The American public is simply afraid of the solutions, but they are underway nonetheless. And when these policies are law the people will obey; buy green energy, hybrids and so on. As long as they do that, I don't care what sort of nonsense they believe. This train has left the station. All aboard.

Posted by Mark York on 20 Nov 2009


Nordhaus & Schellenberger are really predictable in their interpretations of the PEW poll. Same song from that corner for nearly five years.

Anthony DiMaggio (Illinois State University) has an alternativ interpretation, which can be reached here: A Culture of Denial - http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/23189

Posted by Niels-Holger Nielsen on 23 Nov 2009


"Anthony Dingier (Illinois State University) has an alternative interpretation, which can be reached here: A Culture of Denial - http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/23189"

Thanks. I was struck by what was said about privilege as a factor in the culture of denial.

Posted by TRB on 24 Nov 2009


I agree with Mark York, the train has really left the station. The scientific evidence is very scary, indeed. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to read a graph, and because of the corporate shills paid to deny global warming, the public thinks there is actually scientific doubt about the dangers of global warming.

When most of Americans do not believe in evolution, why should anyone be surprised that they do not understand global warming? Which for me is just one more nail in the coffin for humanity as a whole. I will not live long enough to see it, but it looks like things on Earth are going to get really bad. The question is "when", not "what if".

Posted by estetik on 18 Dec 2009


estetik,

Very true what you say, most Americans are uneducated as to the problems of Global Warming. The majority cant even distinguish the difference between weather and climate to start with, so how is it possible to get them to understand global climate. Many cant think outside the USAs borders, as if their little world stops at the Atlantic and Pacific shores. Its time for the average American to go back to school and start to learn how to live a life thats close to the environment, not as it is now, just buy and throw away.

Only when a major catastrophe happens in the states, far far worse than Katrina, only then will they understand what it is all about.

Posted by George Robinson on 21 Dec 2009


Isn't this exactly what happenned with Waxman-Markey and what was attempted with Boxer-Kerry? Then a funny thing happened, people revolted and a solidly Democrat state elected a Republican governor. The reality is we live in a democracy. Policies that affect peoples lives in a significant way have to be sold. If your sales pitch to interested parties is rejected by a 2:1 margin, and the leftist liberal elite lawmakers do what they think best anyway, a difficult election cycle for the incumbent party will turn into a rout. What happens to your policy then? There is nothing unusual about the public being uncommitted. Most of us are more than willing to take actions that make sense, like being efficient with energy use. Most are not interested in committing to the current actions proposed by politicians, because they are ineffective, wasteful, and will breed corruption.

Posted by Peter on 20 Jan 2010


Government and business face a big challenge in changing the public’s use of energy at home and reducing the UK’s overall carbon emissions.

The general public are resentful, cynical and resigned when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to an IPPR report.

Unless they can be persuaded to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles, it will be impossible to meet new emissions targets.

An approach based on saving the public money, and giving them greater control over energy bills and independence from suppliers would be more effective, say report researchers.

Posted by Peter2009 on 21 Jan 2010


The decrease in the faith of the people due to climate change, much more than Apocalypse Fatigue. Many people find that their golden goose in the trillions of dollars ready to be plucked, it feels good to environmentalists, one-worlders is successful, the goals and the gaggle of climate scientists maintain luxurious lifestyles through public research grants. Look at Al Gore, Prince Charles and others who demand that the ordinary people to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and adopt the mode constriction of life 'of the planet' during a race around the world spew huge amounts of CO2 and the old King Farouk lead living color.

Posted by Beran Env on 04 Feb 2010


According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by
about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two
decades. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years
is attributable to human activities. Human activities have altered the chemical composition
of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide,
methane, and nitrous oxide. The heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed although
uncertainties exist about exactly how earth's climate responds to them.
get back to nature.
Posted by nest on 05 Feb 2010


Tragic how there's still, in 2009, piles of denialist comments after every article anywhere mentioning climate change.

Every major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better?

But lets pretend for a moment that you're right, Stephen Staedtler, Sean Wise, Stephan Fitzpatrick, and that the tens of thousands of scientists who actually spent their whole life studying the issue are wrong. The resources that you so badly seem to want us to continue burning are finite, will eventually run out, and we'll sooner or later need to switch to renewables anyway. Could we not just as well do it now, just in case.....

Posted by ritz on 13 Feb 2010


Isn't this exactly what happenned with Waxman-Markey and what was attempted with Boxer-Kerry? Then a funny thing happened, people revolted and a solidly Democrat state elected a Republican governor. The reality is we live in a democracy. Policies that affect peoples lives in a significant way have to be sold. If your sales pitch to interested parties is rejected by a 2:1 margin, and the leftist liberal elite lawmakers do what they think best anyway, a difficult election cycle for the incumbent party will turn into a rout. What happens to your policy then? There is nothing unusual about the public being uncommitted. Most of us are more than willing to take actions that make sense, like being efficient with energy use. Most are not interested in committing to the current actions proposed by politicians, because they are ineffective, wasteful, and will breed corruption.

Posted by christopher on 15 Feb 2010


An approach based on saving the public money, and giving them greater control over energy bills and independence from suppliers would be more effective, say report researchers.

The general public are resentful, cynical and resigned when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to an IPPR report.

Thx.

Posted by Posted by Greg on 18 Feb 2010


Every major organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be?
Posted by Michael on 18 Feb 2010


Isn't this exactly what happened with Waxman-Markey and what was attempted with Boxer-Kerry? Then a funny thing happened, people revolted and a solidly Democrat state elected a Republican governor. The reality is we live in a democracy. Policies that affect peoples lives in a significant way have to be sold. If your sales pitch to interested parties is rejected by a 2:1 margin, and the leftist liberal elite lawmakers do what they think best anyway, a difficult election cycle for the incumbent party will turn into a rout. What happens to your policy then? There is nothing unusual about the public being uncommitted. Most of us are more than willing to take actions that make sense, like being efficient with energy use. howwwwwwww gogg :p Most are not interested in committing to the current actions proposed by politicians, because they are ineffective, wasteful, and will breed corruption.

Posted by Chat on 18 Feb 2010


All major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better?

Posted by FX on 25 Feb 2010


Government and business face a big challenge in changing the public’s use of energy at home and reducing the UK’s overall carbon emissions.

The general public are resentful, cynical and resigned when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to an IPPR report.

Unless they can be persuaded to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles, it will be impossible to meet new emissions targets.

An approach based on saving the public money, and giving them greater control over energy bills and independence from suppliers would be more effective, say report researchers.

Posted by halı saha on 02 Mar 2010


"But lets pretend for a moment that you're right, Stephen Staedtler, Sean Wise, Stephan Fitzpatrick, and that the tens of thousands of scientists who actually spent their whole life studying the issue are wrong. The resources that you so badly seem to want us to continue burning are finite, will eventually run out, and we'll sooner or later need to switch to renewables anyway. Could we not just as well do it now, just in case....."

Too true, whats the harm is what i have been asking?

Posted by BradR on 03 Mar 2010


Great article… Although I had to read through it twice to soak up all the information. I think one of the problems with the global warming/cooling issue is the complexity of the science. So little is known about the forces that have shaped our planet, and it will take years of research before we can be certain of anything.

One thing is certain, major changes in climate; mass extinction; continental drift are things that take thousands and millions of years to occur. In the breaif episode that is the average human life time, not very much is going to happen. Indeed in the breif time that the human species evolves and eventually becomes extinct, not very much is going to happen. In a few million years a whole lot will have happened, and humans will be long gone.

The earth really isnt under threat. Its so huge and the wildlife (except for a few large mamals and some rare insects/reptiles) is coping just fine.
There are litterally thousands and thousands of acres of land that remain as total wilderness, completely devoid of human interference. Most of us however live in the most populated parts of the world, on soils eroded through the last glaciation. From our perspective humans seem to be everywhere, ruining everything.
Certainly some species are suffering because of us, but suffering and extinction is what drives evolution. Something else will ultimately always emerge, the fossil record is proof of this.
To attemp to keep certain species alive is really a rather selfish act, because we like something. Nature has no care it just go’s as it go’s.

Its about time everyone swatted up and realized that while humans are certainly destructive in their progress, we cant really do all that much damage to the earth overall. In prehistoric times there have been numerous mass extinctions. Its the way of the world whether we like it or not. We could attempt to save everything from whatever, only for a meteorite to strike, or a super volcano to erupt.

The earth is a vast ancient planet, and the life upon it, the climate, even huge mountains like the himalayas will come and go.

Posted by Lexa on 04 Mar 2010


God Bless America!!! You’ve got to love a country where 58% of people think that they should be reducing GHG emissions regardless of other nations, 75% think they should reduce GHG emissions in partnership with other nations, but only 45% think that AGW is a fact.

Conclusion – at minimum 30% of US folks are morons (that is the 30% who think GHGs should be reduced even though they don’t think they cause warming).

Posted by simon on 06 Mar 2010


So what's the solution? You say: "And it will not stop them from supporting policies to reduce carbon emissions - so long as the costs are reasonable and the benefits, both economic and environmental, are well-defined."

Climate groups like the League of Conservation Voters have tried to message cap and trade around 'clean energy jobs economy', which plays to those two benefits you mention. But the messaging isn't prevailing. The right wing responds that it's an energy tax. Have we just not disseminated our message widely enough?

Posted by lomboz on 11 Mar 2010


Could try avoiding blaming public for inability to get coherent, rational messages across, and try a different tack from 'it's all the fault of [anyone but us that our message is getting broadcast every which way but for some reason isn't being received in the way we want

It might also help to try and intercept/redirect the passions of those who see the odd question on best practice worth asking requiring being met with a certain amount of emphatic suppression in some quarters. Especially with 'colourful' tribalist epithets hurled around at the drop of a carbon query, that end up simply pushing some in other directions than that of engagement, much less persuasion.

Or.... keep it in the 'anyone but...' area, and call it something like apocalypse fatigue.

Posted by chenjia on 12 Mar 2010


It's a standard trope for conservative analysts to demand that we give the American public more credit than they deserve for their "wisdom" on issues like this. Yet the fact that the American public's belief in evolution ranks so low among countries with high levels of compulsory education demonstrates that, on issues of science, this supposed wisdom sometimes simply isn't there.

As politically incorrect as it may be to say this, on certain subjects the American public is simply ignorant, and on the climate change issue they have plenty of right-wing enablers of that ignorance who are terrified that their way of life (and the position of power they hold within it) is going to have to change.

Hand-wringing over the American public's acceptance (or not) of climate change is just as useless as worrying about whether conservative Evangelicals will ever accept evolution. What has to happen now is for far-sighted elites (of whatever political stripe, though most probably will identify to the left — a telling thing in itself) who are in clear possession of an understanding of climate science need to break trail on public policy and start making the changes that need to be made, whether opinion polls suggest the American public is ready or not. If that sounds sacrilegious, well, it's pretty much how civil rights were secured in this country.

Posted by Gry on 12 Mar 2010


These same efforts to increase salience through offering increasingly dire prognosis about the fate of the planet (and humanity) have also probably undermined public confidence in climate science. Rather than galvanizing public demand for difficult and far-reaching action, apocalyptic visions of global warming disaster have led many Americans to question the science. Having been told that climate science demands that we fundamentally change our way of life, many Americans have, not surprisingly, concluded that the problem is not with their lifestyles but with what they’ve been told about the science.

Posted by Georgia Stathan on 12 Mar 2010


It is certainly not my understanding that the science has become more definitive over the last few years. Global temperatures remain reluctant to rise as expected. The whole field of historic temperature reconstruction has fallen into disrepute. The models, which in part are "validated" against this dodgy data, are even more suspect. Prediction after dire prediction has failed to happen.

What's more the consequences of climate change no longer appear so fearful. The science is now clear that increased and worse storm activity is not a likely outcome of warming. Likely sea level rises over the next century are now predicted to be modest.

The only thing that has ramped up in recent years is the hysterical nature of the rhetoric. Let me add another psychological term to those mentioned by the article - cognitive dissonance. There is a growing gap between the rhetoric and the reality, and people are noticing.

Posted by Paulus on 12 Mar 2010


Tragic how there's still, in 2009, piles of denialist comments after every article anywhere mentioning climate change.

Every major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better?

Posted by sohbet on 14 Mar 2010


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from the heaviest polluters including new, huge factories and coal-fired power plants.

Posted by Robert on 15 Mar 2010


We need to stop telling citizens that they can go about their day, and their government will take care of it. Citizens, and changing some habits, are key to the long term viability of many programs.. and we need to begin getting people used to that idea.

Posted by einfachwissen on 15 Mar 2010


You asked the key question in your lead paragraph: What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?

But you didn't answer it.

You only stated that Americans would be willing to support policy to reduce carbon emissions — so long as the costs are reasonable and the benefits, both economic and environmental, are well-defined.

Given the costs likely to be involved in replacing almost all of of our systems that rely on fossil energy, this is likely to result in only weak action. Too little, too late.

Please take a shot at answering your own question.

Posted by andy on 19 Mar 2010


I think that one factor in mobilising the general public is not anything to do with warning messages. Smokers do not respond to cancer scare stories and the same psychology exists here.

People will be motivated by reward rather than gloom. Show people how to rid themselves of high fuel bills by installing renewable energy projects in their homes and they respond.

My blog, http://solar-energy-advantages.iblogger.org deals with these areas and we can see massive interest in these topics.

This is how Joe & Jane Doe will be introduced to an understandable and irrefutable method to avoid climatic disaster. Not through scientists playing ping pong with big issues.

Posted by Barry Rodgers on 20 Mar 2010


Most people would welcome a lifestyle where they spend less time in traffic, enjoy fresh, locally grown food, do less housework and have less credit card debt. Having a smaller ecological footprint means having a better standard of living, not a sacrifice.

Posted by cay on 23 Mar 2010


You can't really expect the American general public to be all that concerned, because they are focused on more immediate concerns, like putting food on the table, paying the bills, keeping the kids out of trouble, (and yes, "what's in it for me?") and so on. The global warming issue is too abstract for average folks.

Add to that the fact that an alarming number of otherwise intelligent people get a lot of their "information" from the Hannitys and Limbaughs, who've gone to great lengths to try and discredit Al Gore, and the scientific community whenever it's findings are inconvenient. People are just plain confused, and don't have the time and energy to sort it all out.

It falls upon our leaders to tackle these larger issues, and rally public support when it is needed.

Posted by Garth on 27 Mar 2010


The answer is simple as to what will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions? A tsunami and earthquake on American soil. An earthquake similar to that which occurred in Haiti or Chile recently. Thus far, earthquakes that occurred in America are the size of the aftershock of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes. Not wishing this of course, but obviously, the occurrences of these natural phenomenon, on so called, foreign soil is not enough to impart urgency in Americans or the world such that we rally behind preservation of trees as a means of off-setting carbon emissions.

Trees intake CO2 emissions and provide fresh air for the earth. Less trees result in more CO2, a warmer climate, creating a rippling effect to the bottom of the ocean and the earth. The earth is still one body of land, so is the ocean one body of water and so is man one family one blood.

So the solution is not just getting Americans to take strong action, the solution is having global awareness on one accord of the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions for the preservation of earth. As long as there are countries sill using coal as a main source of energy supply, the effects of global warming will become more and more evident.

Posted by Martin Maturine on 27 Mar 2010


This topic is certainly controversial. The public is easily manipulated by professional spin-doctors on both sides of the argument.

A complex issue like this can't be reduced to bumper sticker size thought chunks. The average person can't wade through scientific treatises or understand climate modeling variables.

My take so far is that going green is a massive trend and the transition from fossil based fuels to renewables will continue to accelerate.

Dramatic limitation of pollution by political mandate will encounter continued fierce resistance because it threatens the income of people that depend on that type of energy use.

Science has also gotten a bit of a tarnished reputation lately due to the rise of corporate science, by which I mean science with a commercial agenda. The pharmaceutical industry is an example. They cherry pick studies that support the results they want and discard anything contrary.

Maybe the green movement needs a new figurehead or representative that can help the average person understand what's going on.

Thanks for the good work you do here.

http://www.mysolarstory.com/blog

Posted by Joe Townend on 31 Mar 2010


Hi I am from Indonesia.

When I read this post, I compared the climate in my country. Here the climate is tropical and has only 2 seasons. However, pollution levels too high then the climatic conditions here are also to be worse lately.

So if the entire country was also hit by the bad climate what will become of this world.
Posted by andre on 05 Apr 2010


I agree with Mark York, the train has really left the station. The scientific evidence is very scary, indeed. Unfortunately, most people do not know how to read a graph, and because of the corporate shills paid to deny global warming, the public thinks there is actually scientific doubt about the dangers of global warming.

www.chillchills.co.cc
www.articleoff.co.cc
www.articleaof.co.cc

Posted by Tom on 17 Apr 2010


answers to the global warming problem is "starting from yourself"
now many people preaching about global warming, but very little to doing. start from yourself and others will follow
Posted by bondan on 26 May 2010


The article is great but the thing that caught my attention was this question - Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed?
I feel that things are not going to change much if the main vehicles of pollution are still on the go. Like cars races = How many Nascar cars have emission controls, NONE. And this is one of the problems. While the government can try to do some good on one hand and on the other is letting all kinds of private organizations to pollute. And what is the result? Global Warming - This is a real problem.
Posted by Javier "hosting" Ramos on 26 May 2010


Hopefully the oil spill in the gulf will make the public more concerned about oil and global warming. We have the technology to use electric and hydrogen cars to stop using oil, and never have to worry about future spills. We could also use solar panels for our homes, and to plug into electric cars. So we don’t have to use coal plants that pollute the air and cause mercury to get in our lakes and rivers, for our electric needs.

I know the new technology is too expensive for most people, but if the American government could get more involved to make electric cars on a mass scale in factories, prices would eventually go down to where the general public can buy new emission free cars. At first if we stopped using oil the economy might get even worse, but obviously would be better for our planet and for people in the long run.

Posted by Mitch http://www.2012prophecys.com/ on 27 May 2010


Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-662092,00.html

Computer models FAIL!!!!!!


Aren't we supposed to be under water by last decade's predictions?
Posted by Sam John on 28 May 2010


After watching An Inconvenient Truth I should have voted for Al Gore. Our planet is in such distress with all the pollution we are putting into it. Now look at the oil spill in the Gulf how much more can we do to kill this planet . There isn't much we can do as individuals this has to be a government mandated thing to start changing the world!

Thanks for the good article here I hope we can change things.

Posted by Mike Watson on 16 Jun 2010


If the American government could get more involved to make electric cars on a mass scale in factories, prices would eventually go down to where the general public can buy new emission free cars. As long as there are countries sill using coal as a main source of energy supply, the effects of global warming will become more and more evident.

Posted by newbook on 21 Jun 2010


There is nothing unusual about the public being uncommitted. Most of us are more than willing to take actions that make sense, like being efficient with energy use. Most are not interested in committing to the current actions proposed by politicians, because they are ineffective, wasteful, and will breed corruption.

Posted by vdijle on 24 Jul 2010


And why would you assume that a public who isn't even grasping the science is going to go all single-issue on this and boot the architects out? It's possible that they will simply accept the policy even though they come to think it's flawed (see under Bush: Iraq)

Posted by muzik dinle on 25 Jul 2010


The current path that we are on is clearly the wrong one, and it is time that we begin to make some changes. COP15 would have never been "the" answer, and it is going to take a lot more than some fancy accounting to begin really turning the carbon (dioxide) count back.. and that is before we even begin to tackle the MH4 issue that we face.

Posted by köpek
on 26 Jul 2010


The article is great but the thing that caught my attention was this question - Why have Americans been so consistently supportive of action to address climate change yet so weakly committed?

I feel that things are not going to change much if the main vehicles of pollution are still on the go. Like cars races = How many Nascar cars have emission controls, NONE. And this is one of the problems. While the government can try to do some good on one hand and on the other is letting all kinds of private organizations to pollute. And what is the result? Global Warming - This is a real problem.

Posted by etekalti.biz on 26 Jul 2010


Certainly some species are suffering because of us, but suffering and extinction is what drives evolution. Something else will ultimately always emerge, the fossil record is proof of this.
To attemp to keep certain species alive is really a rather selfish act, because we like something. Nature has no care it just go’s as it go’s.

Posted by chrlesdikkenson on 14 Aug 2010


All major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better? ?

Posted by Jocuri Full on 24 Aug 2010


The answer is simple as to what will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions? A tsunami and earthquake on American soil. An earthquake similar to that which occurred in Haiti or Chile recently. Thus far, earthquakes that occurred in America are the size of the aftershock of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes. Not wishing this of course, but obviously, the occurrences of these natural phenomenon, on so called, foreign soil is not enough to impart urgency in Americans or the world such that we rally behind preservation of trees as a means of off-setting carbon emissions.
Posted by makina on 01 Sep 2010


If the American government could get more involved to make electric cars on a mass scale in factories, prices would eventually go down to where the general public can buy new emission free cars. As long as there are countries sill using coal as a main source of energy supply, the effects of global warming will become more and more evident.
Posted by harip on 01 Sep 2010


Hi .. My Names Hakan .. If the American government could get more involved to make electric cars on a mass scale in factories, prices would eventually go down to where the general public can buy new emission free cars. As long as there are countries sill using coal as a main source of energy supply, the effects of global warming will become more and more evident.
Posted by evden eve nakliyat on 01 Sep 2010


It became clear by the 1960s global warming temperature modifications would impact us all. Since then many supporting studies to the global warming temperature change have been released; the reactions by administrations and big business in the past 40 years has been excessive and measures to zero twisting the facts and giving the appearance they are doing something.

For those who are genuinely concerned about the environment because we all must live with in the ecological system and also we must breathe the air and drink the water it makes sense to do as little polluting as possible. It would be nice if everyone looked in the mirror and lived a carbon free life.
Posted by Samg on 02 Sep 2010


hi ted, maybe in your country most people think that global warming is already a very significant decline but, our country increasingly feels the heat.

irregular weather that we usually meet at the end of the rainy season is now common throughout the year, with rains that causing flooding in some areas.

human consciousness has lessened. awareness in the future hopefully it will come with a variety of activities that will truly support the concern of global warming.

r '


Posted by joe nr on 02 Sep 2010


You can't really expect the American general public to be all that concerned, because they are focused on more immediate concerns, like putting food on the table, paying the bills, keeping the kids out of trouble, (and yes, "what's in it for me?") and so on. The global warming issue is too abstract for average folks.
Posted by google-clone on 05 Sep 2010


The figures do not sound very good.This is to the foolish belief of the people that Global warming is declining.Although the restrictions imposed by the government of the respective countries regarding the usage of CFC has come to the rescue to the effect of Global warming but still we have to go a long way.I appreciate your efforts in minimizing Global warming.
Posted by Joydeep on 07 Sep 2010


All major universities on worldwide have resarches on global warming issue and all of them agree with global warming is happening.

China, India & Indonesia are all developing rapidly with their energy programs focused on dirty coal burning power plants. What we need to do is ;

1) switch to clean nuclear power generation,
2) increase in taxes for fossil fuel burning cars, subsidies for electric cars

Posted by Nikola on 08 Sep 2010


The recent imbroglio involving admission of guilt by authoritative experts like RK Pachauri has also done a great deal of harm. A lot of people who were straddling the fence, as it were, are now freely skeptical of any argument about global warming. A lot of people now believe that the talk about global warming is bull. Which is really sad. Global warming is a reality for a number of people, including those in my part of he world. Already, we can see unprecedented changes in weather patterns - summers are extremely hot, rains are failing and even winters are warmer. One just hopes that people wake up before it is too late.
Posted by SiddSingh on 09 Sep 2010


Decline global warming? Must be really arrogant and blind to say there are not significant effects that have already happened.
You just have to look around the weather of the world. As a UK citizen I don't really remember when to experience this amount of warm weather like this summer.
Universities and research labs have already figured out some solution to reduce those effects in order to not kill out children. The goverments just have to listen to them and implement some of the ideas.
Posted by Panic on 12 Sep 2010


The current path that we are on is clearly the wrong one, and it is time that we begin to make some changes. COP15 would have never been "the" answer, and it is going to take a lot more than some fancy accounting to begin really turning the carbon (dioxide) count back.. and that is before we even begin to tackle the MH4 issue that we face.
Posted by www.kirazoyun.net on 12 Sep 2010


A lot of people who were straddling the fence, as it were, are now freely skeptical of any argument about global warming. A lot of people now believe that the talk about global warming is bull. Which is really sad. Global warming is a reality for a number of people, including those in my part of he world.
Posted by oto kokusu on 13 Sep 2010


Ok - I think most people agree that the government should do more. There is strong backing, for example, for several of the ideas that emerged out of the Conservative's Quality of Life Blueprint, including tax differentiation based on car engine size and/or home energy performance, as well as a moratorium on airport expansion. In fact the only proposition that truly encountered strong public opposition was charging for parking at out-of-town shopping centres – but perhaps this is a step too far – or too personal and particular. Regards
Posted by Tonstudio on 14 Sep 2010


All major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind.

Posted by Patrick on 15 Oct 2010


You just have to look around the weather of the world. As a UK citizen I don't really remember when to experience this amount of warm weather like this summer.

Universities and research labs have already figured out some solution to reduce those effects in order to not kill out children. The goverments just have to listen to them and implement some of the ideas.

Posted by alex on 23 Oct 2010


You can't really expect the American general public to be all that concerned, because they are focused on more immediate concerns, like putting food on the table, paying the bills, keeping the kids out of trouble, (and yes, "what's in it for me?") and so on. The global warming issue is too abstract for average folks.

Posted by medangamer on 29 Oct 2010


Some University's research labs have already find out a solution to reduce these effects in order to not kill our children. The rulings just have to listen to them and implement some of the ideas.

Posted by Kevin Foster on 11 Nov 2010


For some reason some american believe the climate change is a lie, i can't understand why in schools they don't teach more about it.

Posted by alito on 15 Nov 2010


There was a huge debate in France about the reality of climate change. Hopefully, it's close and the facts are clear : weather is changing.

But few months lost because of lobbying of oil & energy companies.

Posted by Lamaisonpositive on 22 Nov 2010


This is a very interesting article. As we all know global warming is a current natural phenomenon which is causing the ozone layer to become less protective. After understanding what is causing this problem. We have change a lot of things to minimize the effects. Yet we're forgetting that the batter is not over yet. We can fix what is done, but we can certainly prevent it from becoming worse. Great article.

Posted by positive radicals on 01 Dec 2010


For me as a European I cannot understand how one of the greatest nations on the world is publically denying that humans are responsibly for the climate we have right now and that it´s getting warmer and warmer every day. I think that´s cause the economy in the states is more important for them than the environment.

Posted by Alexander on 06 Dec 2010


We need to stop asking people's opinions and start asking them how much they know.

Posted by Cass on 17 Dec 2010


Tragic how there's still, in 2009, piles of denialist comments after every article anywhere mentioning climate change.

Every major scientific organisation in every country agrees that global warming is happening and that it is caused by mankind. How arrogant would you need to be to think that you know better?

But let's pretend for a moment that you're right, Stephen Staedtler, Sean Wise, Stephan Fitzpatrick, and that the tens of thousands of scientists who actually spent their whole life studying the issue are wrong. The resources that you so badly seem to want us to continue burning are finite, will eventually run out, and we'll sooner or later need to switch to renewables anyway. Could we not just as well do it now, just in case.....

Posted by Kørekort priser on 17 Dec 2010


I think most people agree that the government should do more and that is before we even begin to tackle the MH4 issue that we face.

Posted by Gonzalez on 03 Jan 2011


I think in order to get climate back on track, we need some solutions.

First of all, the systems that we are using now is wasting money and very inefficient. Everyone should not just think about the future technologies for the time being.

Secondly, those individuals who are well-trained and smart have invested much time to understand the technical issues and said that science is both uncertain and likely wrong by a wide margin.

The people should understand that greenhouse effect will certainly increase the surface temperature. What they do not believe is that the warming will be anywhere near the levels commonly predicted.

Posted by Winter Moris on 20 Feb 2011


This is a very interesting article. As we all know global warming is a current natural phenomenon which is causing the ozone layer to become less protective niversities and research labs have already figured out some solution to reduce those effects in order to not kill out children. The goverments just have to listen to them and implement some of the ideas.

Posted by estetik on 21 Mar 2011


"Having a smaller ecological footprint means having a better standard of living, not a sacrifice."

Posted by andy on 10 Apr 2011


I think the american schools should teach more about why there's a climate change. Seems like those schools don't really want to touch on this topic.

Posted by Jacky on 23 Apr 2011


The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that 57% think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures.Over the same period, there has been a comparable decline in the proportion of Americans who say global temperatures are rising as a result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels. Just 36% say that currently, down from 47% last year.

Posted by Nimbuzz on 01 May 2011


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ted nordhaus and michael shellenbergerABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ted Nordhaus, left, and Michael Shellenberger are the authors of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility and a recent collection of energy and climate writings, The Emerging Climate Consensus, with a preface by Ross Gelbspan, available for download at www.TheBreakthrough.org. In an earlier article for Yale Environment 360, they wrote about why they consider the cap-and-trade debate logically flawed.
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