Friday, October 19, 2012

Climate deniers losing the argument

  • Americans’ belief in the reality of global warming has increased by 13 percentage points over the past two and a half years, from 57 percent in January 2010 to 70 percent in September 2012. At the same time, the number of Americans who say global warming is not happening has declined nearly by half, from 20 percent in January 2010 to only 12 percent today.
  • For the first time since 2008, more than half of Americans (54%) believe global warming is caused mostly by human activities, an increase of 8 points since March 2012. Americans who say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment have declined to 30 percent (from 37% in March).
  • A growing number of Americans believe global warming is already harming people both at home and abroad. Four in ten say people around the world are being harmed right now by climate change (40%, up 8 percentage points since March 2012), while 36 percent say global warming is currently harming people in the United States (up six points since March).
  • In addition, they increasingly perceive global warming as a threat to themselves (42%, up 13 points since March 2012), their families (46%, up 13 points), and/or people in their communities (48%, up 14 points). Americans also perceive global warming as a growing threat to people in the United States (57%, up 11 points since March 2012), in other modern industrialized countries (57%, up 8 points since March), and in developing countries (64%, up 12 points since March).
  • Today over half of Americans (58%) say they are “somewhat” or “very worried” - now at its highest level since November 2008.
  • For the first time since 2008, Americans are more likely to believe most scientists agree that global warming is happening than believe there is widespread disagreement on the subject (44% versus 36%, respectively). This is an increase of 9 percentage points since March 2012.
This is a welcome reminder that the climate blogosphere is a tiny, tiny community, and the irrational, unpersuadable right-wing ideologues who relentlessly seek domination over it do not reflect the broader, disengaged public. Nor is the public responding to pro-science perspectives. If I had to guess, I'd say they are simply responding to the evidence that they are seeing with their own eyes.


  1. It's also been observed- can't find the link/reference- that peoples' concerns about global warming increase when the weather is hot. So, "skeptics" hold a losing hand; the issue is how long they can continue to bluff.

    I'm glad to see the trends reverse here.

  2. BCC,

    I know Nate Silver did a couple posts on that. I believe one of them included reference to recent peer reviewed work.


  3. ...and climate change denial is a feature of mainly UK and US media.

    Reality will attend to the denialist jerks. But Tracker, you're correct, the denialists are a minority, and a losing one at that. Having the same psychological pathology as pub-bores and internet trolls they won't shut up, no matter how the evidence stacks up against them. We're already seeing what they will revert to - paranoid conspiracy theories. As a former sceptic I know that the time for honest scepticism is long gone, what remains are the dregs who are either too ideologically driven or too stupid to grasp reality.

    The world is moving on, both in terms of public mood and the physical process, and the denialists are left ever more isolated in their own fantasies. By 2020 when a denialist opens their mouth most people will be making excuses and moving away from 'that loony'.

    1. Exactly, and I think gently helping that process along is one of the positive contributions we can make. Some people say "Why pick on them?" And I answer: "Did you convince the hardcore racists they were wrong about blacks voting? Did you convince the vocal sexists that women belonged in the workplace? You didn't: but the public discourse ultimately shifted to the point where those people were embarrassed to express their prejudice." And that is how these bitter social and political debates finally get (relatively) settled.

    2. There were two reasons why I started a blog.

      1) To spare others on the messageboard where I posted from my long posts on AGW.

      2) And... This is the more important... I've been sick for some years of the denialists clogging up Google with their guff. So I concluded the only way we can oppose this is by starting off our own blogs telling the science as it is without the lies, distortion and spin.

      I still think 2 is vital. More people should start blogs. They don't need to do novel stuff, merely linking to news and other realist blogs that they find interesting / alarming, is enough.

      The denialists have given the impression that they own the blogo-sphere. I think the tide is turning on that. But we need more voices crying out the alarm.

      We live in serious times, silence is complicity.

  4. thanks for sharing.