Poll indicates a Galluping case of indifference
Poll: Global warming no big threat to USA life
Gallup finds only 36% believe climate change will seriously affect their lives
USA TODAY, March 13, 2014
Though two-thirds of Americans believe global warming is happening or will happen during their lifetimes, only about one-third see it as a serious threat to their way of life, a new Gallup Poll reports.
The wide perceptual gap has existed since Gallup first asked the question 17 years ago, but it has narrowed slightly. Today, 36% believe that global warming will seriously affect how they live, up from 25% in 1997.
At the same time, the percentage of people who do not see global warming hampering their lives has doubled since Gallup's first survey — from 9% to 18% in the poll taken March 6 through Sunday.
Seniors and Republicans were the most skeptical about global warming. But even a solid majority (57%) of younger Americans — those 18 to 29 — do not now foresee big threats as the climate warms and changes.
The high-water mark of concern came in 2008, when 75% of respondents expected global warming to happen in their lifetimes and 40% said it would pose a serious threat to how they lived.
Some of the latest numbers:
54% — global warming is already having an impact.
3% — warming will begin in a few years.
8% — impact will happen during their lifetimes.
16% — no effects in their lifetimes but future generations will be affected.
18% — never going to happen.
In a companion survey, Gallup found that climate change is not keeping many people up at night, ranking near the bottom of Americans' most pressing concerns.
Here's how Gallup explains the implications of the no-big-deal attitude:
Americans' belief that global warming is not a serious threat to their way of life may help explain why they see it and the environment more generally as a lower priority for government than issues that affect them more immediately, like the economy and healthcare. However, Americans' average concern about global warming may shift in the future, even if there is no obvious change in environmental conditions, as today's more skeptical older Americans are replaced by younger Americans who are more likely to view global warming as occurring and as a potentially serious threat to their way of life.
The average global temperature has increased by about 1.4°Fahrenheit since 1880, with two-thirds of the warming having occurred since 1975, NASA says. And despite a recent slowdown in the rate of warming, temperatures are on track to rise to higher estimates for the rest of the century, according to research published this week by a space agency climatologist.
"Earth is likely to experience roughly 20% more warming than estimates that were largely based on surface temperature observations during the past 150 years," said NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.