Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for global warming, the long-term worldwide average warming experienced since the industrial revolution. GHGs arise from human use of fossil fuels for energy. Major emitters of GHGs include both industrialized countries and, in recent decades, developing countries as well. Higher global temperatures cause the extremes of hot and cold, and wet and dry, weather of recent years. This blog examines global warming and its effects.
See the Tabbed Pages for links to video tutorials, and a linked list of post titles grouped by topic.
This blog is expressly directed to readers who do not have strong training or backgrounds in science, with the intent of helping them grasp the underpinnings of this important issue. I'm going to present an ongoing series of posts that will develop various aspects of the science of global warming, its causes and possible methods for minimizing its advance and overcoming at least partially its detrimental effects.
Each post will begin with a capsule summary. It will then proceed with captioned sections to amplify and justify the statements and conclusions of the summary. I'll present images and tables where helpful to develop a point, since "a picture is worth a thousand words".
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
American Public Opinion Supports Measures to Combat Global Warming
of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the GeorgeMasonUniversityCenter for Climate Change Communication has summarized
current American public opinion regarding global warming.The public is worried about global warming
and its effects, both on themselves and on future generations.Voters across the political spectrum favor
policy action to counteract global warming.There is strong support for developing renewable energy and extending energy
efficiency measures.Among voters who
say that election candidates’ positions on global warming would affect their
vote, most agree the planet is warming and that human activity is
A review of other
surveys agrees with these findings. We
conclude that in the U. S., popular support for legislation
effectively addressing global warming is strong.It is clear that the public “has the
legislators’ back” in this matter.
Introduction.Implementing new policies intended to counteract worsening global
warming, in the U. S. and other democratic countries, necessarily
requires the support of the population.Administrative
measures put in place by the U. S. executive branch, as well as new
legislative measures enacted in the Congress, both depend on the assent of the
people.Barring such popular approval
neither administrative policies nor proposed legislation would become reality,
since there have always been many powerful corporate and economic interests
dedicated to preserving the status quo.
Public opinion on
various aspects of the global warming issue has been the focus of an ongoing
series of surveys carried out by a consortium of the Yale Project on Climate
Change Communication and the GeorgeMasonUniversityCenter for Climate Change Communication, involving
Emily Vraga, Connie Roser-Renouf, Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach, among
others.Their most recent survey
entitled “Climate Change in the American Mind”, was released in September 2012
(after the summer heat wave and drought in the Midwest, and an unusually
intense season of forest wildfires in the West, but before the U. S.
presidential election and before Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast).This most recent survey worked with 839
subjects; their earlier surveys involved variously 774-832 subjects.
This post presents
a selection of results from the most recent survey
concerning the voting public’s attitudes toward global warming, including a
breakdown by political affiliation.These are categorized as Democrats (more liberal), Republicans (more
conservative), and Independents (frequently called Unaffiliated by others).This selection was released on Jan.
15, 2013 by Anthony
There is strong
concern among American voters about the effects of global warming.Majorities of Democrats and Independents were
worried about effects on them and succeeding generations.
or large-scale measures to reduce global warming is broadly supported,
amounting to 69%, with 88% of Democrats and 78% of Independents in agreement.Republicans in the past have been
characterized as being more doubtful or skeptical concerning global warming and
its effects.Yet in this survey a
majority of Republicans favor at least some level of effort to counteract
aimed at developing renewable energy sources are supported by an overwhelming majority
of voters of all three affiliation groups. Such policies include eliminating
current subsidies to the fossil fuel industry (many of which have been in place for almost 100 years).Across all three groups, strong
majorities favor additional research on developing renewable energy sources.
understands that carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas accumulating in the
atmosphere.Voters in the survey support
regulating carbon dioxide emission (69%), including imposing a carbon tax.There were slightly differing degrees of
support for the tax depending on the use to which the proceeds would be applied;
of the alternatives presented the most strongly supported were using the
proceeds for job creation in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and
promoting development of energy sources that minimize greenhouse gas emission.
93% of Democrats,
75% of Independents and 52% of Republicans were in agreement that global
warming should be at least a medium priority for the President and Congress.In the 6 months since the previous survey,
these percentages for Democrats and Independents were 7-9% higher, while the
percent for Republicans remained unchanged.
58% of registered
voters say that the presidential candidates’ positions on global warming would
be a factor in deciding how they would vote (note that this survey dates from
before the U.
presidential election).Within this
group, 83% agree that the temperature of the planet is warming, and 65% affirm
that human activity is responsible for this warming.
concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continues to rise
inexorably year by year, as humanity across the globe relentlessly burns more
fossil fuels to satisfy its energy demands.Over the past decade, more, and more severe, climate and weather events
negatively impacting human life and livelihood have occurred.These frequently lead to loss of life, major
damage to property and infrastructure, and loss of economic activity, all of
which create a need for financial relief that is frequently borne by
taxpayers.These events are associated
in the minds of the public with the idea that increased greenhouse gases are
causing the increased extent of global warming that we are experiencing.
Mason survey shows that the voting public supports governmental action to help
abate the worsening of global warming.The public favors eliminating subsidies for the fossil fuel industry,
and government-sponsored development of renewable energy sources.American people, as represented by the
survey, support a carbon tax whose proceeds would be applied to several
objectives including job creation in renewable energy and energy efficiency,
and development of innovations in renewable energy.
The survey results
developed by the Yale/George Mason consortium are corroborated in other recent
public opinion surveys on global warming.In a review of several surveys ClimateNexus reports similar results as of Dec. 18, 2012.Thus they were able to report that Hurricane Sandy, the record melting
of Arctic Sea ice, and other North American weather patterns already mentioned have
reinforced in the public mind that global warming is happening “right here,
right now”.Global warming acted to make
such disasters and extremes worse than they would otherwise have been.The harms to Americans are understood by the
analysis, Krosnick and MacInnis (Daedalus, Winter 2013, Vol. 142, pp. 26-39; (doi:10.1162/DAED_a_00183) )
similarly find the American public understands the increase in global warming,
its origins from human activity, and the need to embark on policies to mitigate
warming.They conclude that the failure
to enact legislation combating continued warming cannot be ascribed to a lack
of popular support.
be heartened by the results of surveys such as those summarized here. It is clear that the public “has the
legislators’ backs”. In view of the
strong scientific basis underlying our understanding of global warming and its
worsening trends, it is highly necessary to embark on measures to abate the
process as soon as possible, and as intensively as possible.Public opinion supports enacting such