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The new Gallup survey is out on Americans attitudes towards global warming. It speaks for itself. Here are the highlights . . .

  • Eighty percent of Americans say they understand the issue of global warming, a percentage that is up significantly from 16 years ago, when only 53% said they understood the issue.
  • Slightly less than half of Americans in 1997 said the effects of global warming had already begun to happen. That number has risen, particularly in the past two years, to the point where today 61% say the effects have already begun to happen at this point in time. About one out of four Americans, however, continue to say the effects of global warming will not happen in their lifetimes, if ever.
  • There has also been an uptick in the percentage of Americans who say global warming will pose a serious threat to them in their lifetimes, from 25% in 1997 to 40% today. Even with this increase over the last 11 years, the fact remains that still less than a majority of Americans, at this point, believe global warming will pose a serious threat to them in their lifetimes.
  • The fact that a majority of Americans don’t believe global warming will pose a threat to them in their lifetimes makes it perhaps less surprising to find that significantly less than a majority of Americans say they worry a great deal about it. In fact, worry about global warming is low on a list of 12 environmental problems that Gallup asks about in the Environment surveys.

Last if we had any remaining doubts, the concluding results from the survey:

Some of these results are no surprise and reflects similar findings from a recent Nielsen Online survey. People relate more to concrete elements that they can see and feel such as water, air, soil, and the trees, and also their personal health. They are concerned about their environment, but global warming is seen as a global, distant, threat with little relevance to their personal lives. What shocked me however, was the dichotomy between, on one hand people’s claimed understanding of the global warming threat, and on the other hand their lack of concern and sense of urgency. This tells me people do not really understand.

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