More and more Americans believe in climate change. When will lawmakers catch up?
Defying GOP denial, a growing number of Americans now say they believe that climate change is happening—and is affecting them personally.
A new report says that 73 percent of Americans believe that the climate is changing, and 72 percent say that change is personally important to them. “The proportion of Americans who are very worried about global warming has more than tripled since its lowest point in 2011,” says the report’s executive summary.
The report comes from a survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Besides the increase in beliefs about climate change, 62 percent now say that such change is caused by human actions, an increase of 10 points since 2015. Only one in seven Americans believes that global warming is not occurring.
Why the increase? It’s mainly because of extreme weather. More frequent and intense hurricanes, prolonged droughts, hotter wildfires, bigger floods, and an increased number of tornadoes have convinced a big majority of Americans that it’s past time to take the issue seriously. According to a story about the report in The Guardian:
About two-thirds of Americans believe that global warming is influencing the weather, in the wake of a string of deadly extreme events in the US. About half say the disastrous wildfires in California and Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which flattened parts of North Carolina and Florida, were worsened because of rising global temperatures.
The Yale survey results mirror the findings of a similar new poll by the University of Chicago and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which found that seven in 10 Americans believe in climate change. That poll measured how much the public is willing to pay to counteract the effects of global warming. A $1 surcharge to a monthly electric bill to fight climate change was okay with a majority of Americans, but more expensive surcharges gained less support. Overall, 44 percent were in favor of a carbon tax, compared with 29 percent opposed.
To no one’s surprise, the difference in beliefs and attitudes is partisan. As the Guardian story says, “While 86% of Democrats say climate change is happening, just 52% of Republicans concur.”
This is why Democrats are willing to tackle the problem, with many lawmakers willing to sign on with an ambitious program like the Green New Deal, even as the details of that deal are still being developed. Republicans, unfortunately, are busy sticking their heads in overheated sand.