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By Michael Bastasch
A new poll shows that while most American adults believe human activities are warming the world, about half do not think global warming will negatively impact their lives.
Fifty percent of American adults believe global warming will harm them “not at all” or “only a little,” according to new polling data from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Only 40 percent believe global warming would hurt the “a moderate amount” or “a great deal.” Fifty-one of Americans believe global warming is already hurting people in the U.S. or will in the next 10 years, according to the Yale poll of more than 18,000 adults aged 25 years or older.
Yale University researchers found only 49 percent of American adults believe “most scientists think global warming is happening.” Twenty-eight percent think there’s “a lot of disagreement” among scientists.
The New York Times touted the poll’s topline findings that most Americans “believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back.” The Times juxtaposed public sentiment on global warming against positions held by Republican politicians.
NYT reported that “many Republicans in Congress (and some Democrats) agree with President Trump, who this week may move to kill an Obama administration plan that would have scaled back the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
The paper also notes “about seven in 10 Americans support regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – and 75 percent support regulating CO2 as a pollutant more generally. But lawmakers are unlikely to change direction soon.”
So, why would Americans vote for politicians who disagree with them on global warming? NYT takes a stab at one possible reason.
“Most people know climate change is happening, and a majority agree it is harming people in the United States,” NYT reported. “But they don’t believe it will harm them. Part of this is the problem of risk perception.”
Most polling done in recent years supports the idea that while most Americans agree global warming is happening, most don’t see it as a big priority.
A 2016 YouGov poll of 18,000 people in 17 countries found only 9.2 percent of Americans rank global warming as their biggest concern.
A November, 2015, Fox News poll found only 3 percent of American voters listed “climate change” as the most important issue facing the country. Earlier that year, Gallup found Americans concerned about global warming fell to the same level as 1989.
A Yale poll from 2016 found 17 percent of Americans were “extremely concerned” with global warming, enough to want the government to take immediate action. Twenty-eight percent of Americans were “concerned,” but didn’t see global warming as an urgent issue.
A University of Chicago poll found 61 percent of Americans would not support government policies to stop global warming if it cost them more than $10 a month.