A Green Living article by Steve Waller
Something strange is happening. The Oct. 4, 2009 national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds fewer Americans, (57%, down from 71% in 2008), think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.
In January 2009, global warming ranked at the bottom of the American list of policy priorities. Only 30% of Americans said it should be a top priority, down from 35% a year ago. Global warming is the lowest-rated priority for both independents and Republicans and ranks sixteenth for Democrats among 20 issues. Across all age groups, except those younger than age 30, the percentage who think warming is a very serious problem has declined since 2008.
Independents’ belief dropped dramatically, from 75% in 2008 to 53% in 2009. Just 35% of Republicans see solid evidence today, down from 62% in 2007. The drop among moderate Republicans has been particularly steep; only 41% now say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 69% last year. Even Democrats see less evidence — 75% today compared with 83% in 2009, (91% in 2006). What evidence changed their minds?
Oddly, Americans claim to see less evidence as credible agencies that track global warming data around the world see more evidence. Arctic ice is a global thermometer that clearly reflects global temperatures. The National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado at Boulder (NSIDC, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/) has monitored arctic ice conditions daily since 1976 and clearly shows more evidence of warming.
Since March 1958, average carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have been measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii (available on http://co2now.org/) and show more evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels are rising. Antarctic ice cores indicate that in 800,000 BC(!) CO2 levels were only 220 parts per million (ppm) (see http://www.terranature.org/antarcticIceCore.htm). During those 800,000 years prior to industrialization, CO2 was between 172 and 300 ppm. In 1850, CO2 was at 280 ppm; in 1958, 315 ppm; and in 1990, 350 ppm (considered the highest tolerable global level). As of Dec. 2009, CO2 was at 387 ppm.
The only evidence for carbon dioxide similar to today’s levels was 15 to 20 million years ago when the planet (and mankind) was dramatically different. During this timescale, methane was never higher than 750 parts per billion (ppb) but now it stands at 1,780 ppb.
The rate of change is the most dramatic, with carbon dioxide increases never exceeding 30 ppm in 1,000 years – now carbon dioxide has risen by 30 ppm in only the last 17 years. That’s evidence Americans suddenly stopped seeing last year!
What’s obvious is that those who claim to see less evidence are simply not looking for evidence. You can’t see what you don’t look for. Instead, Americans must be mistaking opinions for evidence. Americans are certainly saturated with opinions, but apparently not with evidence. That puts Americans at odds with the rest of the world which has a much higher concern about the evidence of global warming.
Could TV, promoting status-quo opinion, be persuading you that everything is OK and that evidence isn’t worth looking at? Might language testing and specific wording that turns public opinion on an issue, be turning on you? Has brain scan neuro-marketing learned what part of your brain helps marketers promote “don’t worry” campaigns without your conscious reasoning?
Before you express another mis-opinion about global warming, make sure you look for the evidence other Americans stopped seeing. Start at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming . There is great pleasure in clarity and clarity needs to be restored. Don’t be manipulated by opinions. Seek evidence.
Steve Waller’s family lives in a wind and sol powered home. He has been involved with conservation and energy issues since the 1970s and frequently teaches about energy. He and a partner own a U.P. wind/solar business called Learn Clean Energy. He can be reached at Steve@UPWallers.net.
Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2010. Copyright Steve Waller, 2010.
Council on Foreign Relations
World Opinion on the Environment 11/09 – From a variety of polls
Click to access POPCH5aEnvironment.pdf
U.S. Opinion on the Environment 11/09 – From a variety of polls
Click to access USPOPCH13aEnvironment.pdf
Arctic Ice Cores