New poll shows public demand for action on climate change

Intro

Americans want their leaders to act, not just talk, when it comes to fighting climate change. A new poll conducted by Yale Project on Climate Change Communication shows that 87% of Americans believe the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority and 70% say that global warming should be a priority for the United States government . This show of support for action comes as new analysis by Australian researchers reaffirms a 97% scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Awareness of the scientific consensus is beginning to isolate deniers and drive debate about how to address climate change, not whether it exists.  However, the U.S. political leadership has yet to respond to the growing call for climate action with more than speeches and popular tweets.

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RT @YaleE360 Large majority of Americans believe global warming should be a priority, @YaleClimateComm survey says bit.ly/16M2APg

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Key Points

  • The scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelming, and public support for climate and clean energy policy is growing.A poll from Yale University shows extremely strong support for government action that encourages clean energy development, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and makes global warming a high priority. The tide of public opinion is shifting to match the scientific consensus on the urgent need to tackle climate change.
  • Americans want their leaders to back up their talk on climate change with real action. When President Obama’s campaign account tweeted about an Australian report showing a 97% scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, he grabbed plenty of headlines. Those headlines were nice, but without follow through on his words, an opportunity to combat the worst consequences of climate change will be squandered.
  • President Obama has the executive power to cut U.S. emissions, but unless his strong rhetoric is matched with bold action, the United States’ opportunity to avert the worst of climate change, and be a leader in the clean energy economy, could be lost. The New York Times editorial board is the most recent of the many voices to not only demand climate action from Obama, but to point to very specific steps he can take towards meaningful emissions reductions.

Background

Last week, Australian researchers at Skeptical Science published in Nature Geoscience an analysis concluding that 97% of the climate science literature agrees that climate change is real and is caused by human activities. Their research made headlines around the world, and even garnered a tweet of support from U.S. President Obama’s campaign twitter account.

With the momentum of their research, Skeptical Science has launched the Consensus Project, a website and social media campaign to increase public awareness of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. By harnessing the reach of social media, the researchers hope to spread easy-to-read facts and graphics that will combat the myth that climate change is still up for debate.

This week, the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, in partnership with the George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication, released updated polling information on American public support for climate action from the federal government. Not only do a large majority of Americans support climate and clean energy policy, but there is strong support for specific policies such as tax rebates for clean energy and energy efficiency, regulating carbon dioxide, funding research into clean energy technology, and placing a carbon tax on fossil fuel corporations. Additionally, 59% believe that the U.S. should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.

The level of priority placed on climate and clean energy action varies given respondents’ political party affiliation, with the majority of Democrats and Independents believing action should be a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ priority. About half of Republicans, however, believe climate and clean energy policies should be at least a ‘medium’ priority of the government – showing a disparity between the party’s base and its top level leadership, many of whom continue to entirely deny climate change and stall action.

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 Key Quotes

  • “A very large majority of Americans (87%) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (26%), “high” (32%), or medium priority (28%). Few say it should be a low priority (12%).”  From the official report from the Yale Center on Climate Change Communication entitled Climate Change and the American Mind.

  • “The importance of raising awareness of the scientific consensus on climate change cannot be overstated. Typically, the general public think around 50% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. The Consensus Project has shown that the reality is 97%.” Lead author of the paper and Skeptical Science founder John Cook, from the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

  • “There is a gaping chasm between the actual consensus and public perception. When people understand that scientists agree on global warming, they’re more likely to support policies that take action on it.” Lead author of the paper and Skeptical Science founder John Cook, from the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

More Tweets

  • RT @EcoJive Large Majority of Americans Believe Global Warming Should be a Priority, Poll shows dlvr.it/3PX
  • RT @HilGridz 70% of americans say global warming should be a priority for obama: bit.ly/10K70y0