Poll Shows US FINALLY Waking Up To Climate Change

New Poll: Americans FINALLY Waking Up To Climate Change, Now Even Republicans Are Worried

Has Hell frozen over? A new Gallup poll reveals Americans are FINALLY starting to realize that climate change is a problem and that we’re the ones causing it.

The Huffington Post reports that 10 years since Al Gore warned us of the impending dangers of global warming in his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” we’re finally starting to take climate change seriously again.

A Gallup poll released this week shows an all-time high of 65 percent of Americans who said climate change was caused by human activities, up from 55 percent just last year.

About the same percentage said they worry a “great deal” or a “fair amount” about the phenomenon, and more people than ever said climate change will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes.

Alas, we’re still not as worried as we were back in 2000: But for those of us who hope to reduce our carbon footprint before it’s too late, this is welcome news.

Even concern among Republicans rose 9 points to 40 percent. That’s less than half of the 84 percent among Democrats, but a stark contrast to the near-universal denial from leading GOP presidential candidates over the past year.

Here’s a chart from Gallup that shows how concerns about climate change have varied over the past two-and-a-half decades.

Gallup poll's chart with variations of concern about climate change from 1990-2016.
Image: Gallup.

So what’s causing the sudden spike in public concern about climate change? Gallup ventures that “several years of unseasonably warm weather” may have something to do with it. HuffPo explains:

Earlier this week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that February had shattered all-time monthly heat records, the 10th month in a row to do so. Other notable climate-related effects include rising sea levelsmelting of the world’s glaciers and thawing of the permafrost.

Gallup mentioned that climate change drifted off our radar screens in 2008 when the recession hit. They also mention “some well-publicized pushback against global warming science” in passing. But that barely acknowledges the full impact of fossil fuel interests in preventing our nation from taking meaningful action towards reducing our carbon emissions.

Here’s why so many GOP Republicans deny that humans cause climate change.

Have you ever wondered why so many Republicans insist not only that global warming isn’t caused by human activity, but that it isn’t even an issue? It’s not just because they embrace a bizarre version of Christianity that requires them to disregard scientific evidence, or because they’re the kind of people who habitually stick their fingers in their ears and bawl, “LaLaLa … I Can’t HEAR you!”

Think Progress reports on a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that reveals how private funding over the past two decades has played a major role in our nation’s terrifying level of climate change denial. Justin Farrel, a Yale sociologist, and the study’s author, pored over 20 years worth of articles, “research” and policy papers from 164 groups and over 4,500 individuals who claim that climate change either doesn’t exist or that it is not caused by human activity.

The funding for all this disinformation produced from 1993-2013 came mostly from ExxonMobil and the Koch Family Foundations, which are owned by the fossil fuel magnates Charles and David Koch. Groups that received funding from these sources were far more likely to deny the impact of global warming than organizations that didn’t.

In October, we wrote about how Bernie Sanders called on the US Dept. of Justice to investigate Exxon-Mobile for deliberately hiding the truth about fossil fuels and global warming until a climate scientist announced his findings on greenhouse gasses in 1988.

Back in July, we reported on a leaked email that reveals Exxon Mobil knew the truth about the effect of fossil fuels on climate change since at least 1981. But instead of taking action, Exxon Mobil (actually, just plain old Exxon until they merged with Mobil in 1999) kept it quiet until 1988. That’s when when climate scientist James Hansen announced his findings on greenhouse gasses and global warming to a Senate committee and rocked the world. His dry testimony even made the front page of the New York Times, which was a big deal back in those days.

More recently, my Reverb Press colleague Marc Belisle wrote about how the Koch brothers have built an extensive network of think tanks, PACs and advocacy groups devoted to influencing public opinion, lawmakers, and elections at the local, state and national levels. For the 2016 election cycle alone, the Koch brothers have pledged to spend $700-$900 million.

In recent years organizations like Green Peace and lawmakers like Bernie Sanders have begun calling out fossil fuel interests for spreading misinformation. In addition, KochCash.Org and Brave New Films’ documentary, “Koch Brothers Exposed,”  have further challenged the lies behind the so-called climate change “controversy.”

Featured photo/composite: cc 2008 Owen Byrne (smoke stacks); cc 2008 Francesco (worried woman)

Elisabeth Parker is a writer, web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante.