Gallup: Global warming ranks at bottom of environmental issues for Americans

Harry Reid and his Senate Democrats held an all-night session last month to draw attention to the fierce urgency of now on anthropogenic global warming — without, of course, bothering to offer any legislation on the issue. After this infomercial, Gallup noted that global warming/climate change fell to almost dead last among 15 issues polled; only race relations polled lower. “Even among Democrats,” I wrote at the time, “climate change only gets 36% mention in a non-exclusive list of concerns — ranking far below the economy (54%), health care (57%), hunger and homelessness (53%), and unemployment (52%).” Environmental issues in general fell as an issue of significant concern to its lowest point since 2001.

Gallup revisited the issue in today’s poll, and finds that climate change comes in dead last even within the broader environmental category:

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a new report this week warning of the existing and potentially severe adverse future impact of climate change, yet most Americans continue to express low levels of concern about the phenomenon. A little more than a third say they worry “a great deal” about climate change or about global warming, putting these concerns at the bottom of a list of eight environmental issues.

Americans’ concerns about global warming and climate change have held steady over the past year, while concerns about other environmental threats tested by Gallup have increased. The percentage expressing a great deal of worry about pollution of drinking water, as well as contamination of soil and water by toxic waste, increased by seven percentage points. Worry about climate change and global warming, on the other hand, went up by no more than two points versus last year.

Americans’ generally low level of concern about global warming compared with other environmental issues is not new; warming has generally ranked last among Americans’ environmental worries each time Gallup has measured them with this question over the years. Concern about pollution of drinking water has generally been at the top of the list.

Gallup notes that politics rather than any other demographics tend to predict concern on global warming, but … only to a limited extent. That limit, by the way, is the Democratic Party, 56% of whose voters worry “a great deal” about AGW. That is the only demo with a majority who does. Majorities of Republicans, independents, and voters 50 years old and up worry “only a little/not at all.” The only other demos where “a great deal” hits a plurality are 18-29YOs (38/30) and 30-49YOs (barely at 41/40).

Gallup frets that the IPCC reports seem to have little effect on American opinion, but that’s not exactly news. Part of the reason is that Americans are suspicious when the UN demands authority to run American policy, which is what the IPCC’s aim is with energy, and the other part is that the hyperbolic claims of the IPCC and its supporters generally have turned out to be entirely wrong. The Wall Street Journal noted this last month by publishing this chart of IPCC predictions about global climate, and the reality of it:

Scientific hypotheses that fail to meet predicted outcomes are usually disregarded. The only reason that the AGW hypothesis survives is that it allows the usual suspects to justify the seizure of energy production as a means to impose their preferred idea of distributive “justice” on industrial nations.

That’s not the case for all environmental concerns, of course. The list of priorities in today’s Gallup poll shows that Americans generally take a rational and practical view of environmental protection. They’re just not ready to commit economic suicide just because Turtle Bay finds itself filled with Chicken Littles.