Newly released Gallup polling seems to show a sharp drop in the percentage of Americans who know about, are concerned about, and understand the threat of global warming.

The piece leads with a graph showing a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who think the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated:


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When I saw this I immediately assumed the increase was due to the changing opinions of Republicans, and did not reflect a general trend within the broader population. As Joseph Romm has demonstrated, the GOP’s understanding of climate science has been on a steady decline for years. More evidence of this here and here.

In the piece, Gallup notes that “evidence from last year showed that the issue of global warming was becoming heavily partisan in nature, and it may be that the continuing doubts about global warming put forth by conservatives and others are having an effect.” I’ll say.

Gallup has provided EnviroKnow with the full cross-tabs, which are available below. To illustrate the fact that the shifts shown in the poll are largely partisan in nature, I’ve produced a series of graphs based on the cross-tabs.
The fact that an equal number of Republicans (31 percent) believe that the effects of climate change have already begun as believe the effects will never happen is an excellent display of the schizophrenia of the Republican position on the issue.

Reasonable people can disagree on policy solutions for dealing with problems we face as a society. But the Republican party is playing a different game entirely. Republicans and conservative thought-leaders — at the behest of the corporate polluters who bankroll their campaigns — have made a conscious decision to deny the science in order to advance their political agenda. Put simply, they seem to think they are entitled to their own facts. Unfortunately for them, and ultimately for the rest of us as well, physics doesn’t give a damn about politics.

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Here are the full cross-tabs: 100311_Global_Warming_byParty

Late Update: Gallup runs a piece with a similar angle to this one:

Americans are less likely than now (50 percent) they were two years ago (61 percent) to believe the effects of global warming are already occurring. This shift is most evident among political conservatives, 30 percent of whom believe the effects are already happening, down from 50 percent two years ago. There has been essentially no change in liberals’ views over this time.

Kate Sheppard isn’t worried:

I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about this new poll, as Americans have been confused about climate for a quite a while, and at the same time, they’ve grown more supportive of efforts to address it.

Aaron Weiner weighs in:

How do we account for these rapid shifts in opinion? The most obvious explanation is that environmental concerns have grown much more politicized in recent years, and particularly in the past year. What was once a broad moral and scientific issue is now a centerpiece of the Democrats’ legislative agenda. The percentage of Americans expressing a belief in man-made climate change now correlates loosely with the level of support for the president, while the percentage expressing skepticism is in line with opposition to Democrats in Washington.

More on this from Kate Mackenzie at Financial Times and Brian Merchant at Treehugger.

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