Gallup’s public opinion poll on global warming? Dead last

Water Issues Worry Americans Most, Global Warming Least

PRINCETON, NJ — With Earth Day about a month away, Americans tell Gallup they worry the most about several water-related risks and issues among nine major environmental issues. They worry least about global warming and loss of open spaces.

In fact, over the past ten years, environmental concerns are down in general, despite the recent shrillness of the environmental message.

Bottom Line

Although the United States has experienced nothing like the mass drinking-water scare that is gripping Japan during its current nuclear crisis, Americans largely recognize the importance of clean water to their lives. All four environmental issues referring to “water” in this year’s Gallup Environment poll rank in the upper tier of environmental concerns, with air pollution a close fifth. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a slightly steeper drop-off in concern about several issues that aren’t directly related to daily survival, such as the loss of tropical rain forests and urban sprawl. What may surprise some, given the broad exposure the issue has received in recent years, is that global warming ranks lowest — consistent with other Gallup polling — with barely half of Americans concerned and 48% only a little or not at all concerned.

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Translation: green dudes, you are losing the public attention. Be thankful for the whacked out messages from people like Al Gore, Jim Hansen, Bill McKibben, Tim Flannery, and Joe Romm, because without them these AGW worry numbers would be far higher.

Full report here

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41 Responses to Gallup’s public opinion poll on global warming? Dead last

  1. RockyRoad says:

    When someone in a crowded theatre screams “Fire, Fire, Fire!” yet as time goes by everybody notices there’s no smoke and there’s no flame, the perpetrator is recognized for what he is–an idiot.

  2. Darren Parker says:

    The Boy Who cried Wolf got away with it 3 times before it came back to bite him

  3. Andrew30 says:

    Second chart is showing a duplicate of the first chart, not the correct chart that shows the change over time.

    Are you ‘hiding the decline’?

  4. brc says:

    “In fact, over the past ten years, environmental concerns are down in general, despite the recent shrillness of the environmental message.”

    Should read

    In fact, over the past ten years, environmental concerns are down in general,because of recent shrillness of the environmental message.

    The ‘boy who cried wolf’ is still a popular fable because it underlies a basic human condition : to increasingly ignore people who yell about threats that turn out to be nothing in relation to their background risk level.

    All the shrieking about impossibly high sea level rises, droughts, famine and pestilence have been discounted by a skeptical public and have hardened the publics resolve to listen to anything said about this.

    It’s a monumental own-goal caused by greed, stupidity and hubris. And it may yet have real-life affects if people end up ignoring real environmental concerns.

  5. Keith Minto says:

    They do state that questions were given in random order to 1021 adults. How random is random?, be interesting to know.
    Looking at the surveys over time…….
    The GW worried a ‘great deal’ was 25%, in this poll, only lower once in 1997 (24%)
    The GW worried ‘not at all’ was 28%, steadily higher from the start of the surveys in 1989(12%)

  6. Robw says:

    Wait a minute…. Do you mean that the sky is not falling, the world is not cooking us all, the planet is not dying, the…

    Who woulda thunk?

    Pity all science will pay for this sh*t

  7. John David Galt says:

    Gee, I hoped the corruption of our science institutions would at least make the list!

  8. John F. Hultquist says:

    Most such polls are nearly worthless. For example the four questions at the top have similar “content” and similar numbers. The third asks about drinking water. They should have asked if the person knew where their drinking water came from, say a well, a river, a reservoir, or the local grocery store. Or, can the person name a plant or animal that has gone extinct in the past year. How much has Earth warmed in the past 10 years. Urban sprawl and loss of open spaces? Ask if they know the city of Detroit is gaining open space as folks abandon the city. Now you are talking about a real problem.

    Once you have determined that the person doesn’t know squat about these issues, you can then ask where they get their information. Much like the US temperature and the “once in 2000 years” rain in Australia, information appears out of thin-air with little regard to reality. rant/off

  9. TGSG says:

    “Environmental concerns” were 13th out of 14 categories.. and “climate change” was at the bottom of that list. waaaaaay down on the priority list. Cap and tax seems like a lost cause right now. Defunding the EPA seems like a good cause right this moment. Let them get back to their original concerns.. The air and water and leave the weather to Mama Nature.

  10. David T. Bronzich says:

    brc says:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    “In fact, over the past ten years, environmental concerns are down in general, despite the recent shrillness of the environmental message.”

    Should read

    In fact, over the past ten years, environmental concerns are down in general,because of recent shrillness of the environmental message.”
    Exactly what I was about to comment.

  11. AndyW35 says:

    Shame loss of biodiversity is so low down :( People seem to be more worried about themselves, species centric viewpoint, ie is this cup of water safe?

    Andy

  12. James Sexton says:

    Damnit!!!! I knew they were coming after our water next!!! It’s bull$hit!!! Global water stays on the globe. It either freezes or turns to gas or is liquid. It remains water. There is no more or less of water.

    This isn’t some abstract issue like CO2 pointing heat down on us. It’s water! H2O. You can purify a quart with a cap full of Clorox. There’s as much reasonable worry about our water as there is us running out of rocks. Like fuel, water is only a problem if we let it be one. Don’t buy the BS.

  13. Old Grump says:

    “John David Galt says:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Gee, I hoped the corruption of our science institutions would at least make the list!”

    The average person assumes that to be one of those things that “everyone knows” and sees no need to mention it.

  14. Pete I says:

    If Iwas asked if Icare about global warming I would, given the options mentioned, have to say a great deal or a fair amount. Iworry that the effects of a small amount of warming are greatly exaggerated. Iworry that green taxes will triple my energy costs. I worry that the economy will end up like Spain’s. So, how many of the 51% worry about it for simialar reasons? The question is poorly worded.

  15. Jim Cole says:

    These types of polls annoy me as well because they embody no sense of proportion or probability. They mostly reflect respondants’ familiarity with media “code words” that have been embedded in the public perception by repetition and exaggeration.

    Hands up! Who’s in favor of “toxic waste”?

    And who gets to decide what’s labeled “toxic”? Why, the media of course (in consultation with the requisite advocacy groups).

    Benzene (for example) is probably detectable at part-per-billion levels and it is naturally present in geologic-formation-waters produced during oil and gas operations. Does that make produced water “toxic” if benzene is detected? The EPA probably says “yes”, while common sense says “it depends on the concentration and my exposure”, while reality says “it doesn’t matter because as soon as it reaches the atmosphere, benzene evaporates and is diluted by a factor of 10^6 or more.

    Notice how much of the breathless reporting of radioactivity released/detected from Fukushima reactors says nothing about concentrations/activities. Again, detection (alone) does not equal dose or hazard.

    Want “clean water and clean air”? Well, sure, everybody wants those.

    OK, “how clean?” and “how much are you PERSONALLY willing to pay for your bit?

    Big government (and their handmaiden advocacy groups) get people to buy into the emotional goal (clean/green/sustainable blah blah) by personalizing the benefits (“it’s for your children and grandchildren”) while socializing the costs (“just pennies on $100″ or “it’ll pay for itself in the future”) or appealing to class envy (“tax the rich” or “make the corporations pay”). Liberalism/socialism can be very seductive to the uninquisitive.

    When our EPA has the chutzpah to declare CO2 a “pollutant”, we should know that our government is out of control and needs to be slapped down, hard. CO2 is the very basis of life on this planet because, at concentrations below about 180 ppm, photosynthesis stops. At concentrations like the present (390 ppm) and even much higher, plants thrive. Plants are food for people and for animals (yum). What’s the downside of that?

    Survey results mostly show that our public education system has totally failed to educate people in their most vital skills – skepticism, debate, and logical expression.

  16. Lawrie Ayres says:

    My problem is that much public knowledge is that pedalled by media sucked in by the bumf put out by the IPCC. Indeed if the media started telling their audience the latest satellite and ARGO data there would be even less in the concerned category. At the same time we are being told that the seas are rising more quickly than predicted we have the latest research showing sea level rise is slowing. The media are culpable.

  17. Max Hugoson says:

    Alas, this only shows the pathetic ignorance of the “general public”.

    IF the “general public” had a brain about them, they’d realize that for the most part the globe is cleaner and healthier NOW than it has been for the last 100 years.

    The vast majority of the “large urban areas” are engaging in some sort of “sewage treatment” before discharging excess water into the oceans or rivers.

    Automobiles across the world are “fuel injected” and putting out mostly CO2 and water.

    The balance of power generation has shifted to CH4, and oil burning. The rest that is COAL is precipitated or scrubbed, and not a major problem.

    The “rain forest depletion” is a canard, much as the IPPC. I cite the 1990’s articles in the National Geographic with the “adventurer” traveling the 1600 miles of the Congo river and finding out that LITTLE if any of the Congo JUNGLE (the old term) has been TOUCHED by humans.

    In short, the “enviromental hysteria” is just that. I’ve been fighting this battle for 30 years. I weary of it. Perhaps letting humanity “extinct” itself because chicken little says the sky is falling, is not a bad idea.

  18. Alexander K says:

    It’s very easy for city people in the developed world to take for granted the supply of clean, safe water and the eficient removal of sewerage. When we moved to the UK, the locals took great delight in telling us Kiwis that the tap water in London and the Home Counties “goes through seven sets of kidneys before it gets to you!”.
    We had lived in a rural area for years that has no public sewerage system and individual landowners must use some form of septic tank; all household water supplies are rain water collected from roofs which sounds nice and environmentally kosher but can lead to purification problems when dead Opossums fall into one’s water tank and excess wind-blown tree pollens flushed off roofs by heavy rain turn tank water green and slimy. It is actually a tribute to the way in which water is recycled and purified to a high standard here that the locals can make the ‘seven sets of kidneys’ joke. Because of population growth and the relatively low rainfall of the South-Eastern UK (a climate very similar to that of Spain but without the sunshine hours) , the storage of water is a growing problem here and we were impressed that an enormous new desalination plant adjacent to the Thames in London was commissioned last year to make up the shortfall during the inevitable dry season.

  19. John Marshall says:

    The questions were loaded to get the answer they wanted. There could have been many other questions that Americans would have been worried more about if asked.

  20. AndyW35 says: March 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Shame loss of biodiversity is so low down

    I think its been tarred with the same brush as global warming. E.g. these days I find it extremely difficult to here the word “WWF” without thinking of a lying cheating bunch of morons who tried to scare the world into a religious cult intent on destroying the world and who seemed to be pouring their evil vile into the inner workings of everything from the IPCC to the UK Met Office.

    Which kind of makes it difficult to remember that there are endangered species out there.

    How on earth is anyone ever again going to trust people like the WWF who led the alarmist cause which is now floundering like a fish out of water now that the “evidence” on which their scare was based has vanished?

    Why on earth would anyone give any money to people like the WWF to “save wildlife” when they have so clearly diverted that money to create the false global alarmist cult?

    These organisation are reaping what they have sown, and if they ever did any good for wildlife, I doubt these organisations at the heart of the climategate scandal will ever again have the funds to do much in the future.

  21. David says:

    “Americans largely recognize the importance of clean water to their lives. All four environmental issues referring to “water” in this year’s Gallup Environment poll rank in the upper tier of environmental concerns, with air pollution a close fifth.”

    Yes and without the extra 110 ppm CO2 we would need 10 to 20 % more water to grow the food, wood, and bio fuels we currently grow.

  22. Steve C says:

    With all the usual reservations about polls, the overall result is still pretty clear:
    real pollution – problem
    made-up “carbon pollution” – not
    I’ll drink to that. Next step: educate the 51%.

  23. Bigdinny says:

    On March 3 this year the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Eastern Mountain Lion was officially extinct. The fact that they have been seen in ever increasing numbers in CT, PA and southern NY has been explained away as the sightings most likely being that of the Western Mountain Lion expanding its range. I’m thinking maybe no one told the cats they were dead. There is not much I believe from official government sources anymore. Maybe parts of the poll bear this out about the populace in general.

  24. Spin says:

    Since those poor americans have been tricked into flouridating their water, it’s nice to see concern over water quality ranking that high. Maybe they can finally get their act together and stop adding toxic substances to the tap water.

  25. Frank K. says:

    “Gallup’s public opinion poll on global warming? Dead last…”

    Exactly where it should be!

    Here’s hoping that funding of the bloated government research budgets currently enjoyed by the climate elites can be similarly “dead last”…

  26. dean says:

    [sarcasm]
    But doesn’t America realize that every one of those issues is CAUSED by AGW?
    [\sarcasm]

  27. wws says:

    You know what the only really big difference between the Eastern Mountain Lion and the Western Mountain Lion is?

    Where they live. Seriously, there are no significant genetic differences. The idea that a species has gone “extinct” is ridiculous nonsense.

    So the story about the mountain lions is actually “oh boohoo, mountain lions don’t live in heavily populated areas, that’s so sad.”

  28. marcoinpanama says:

    One topic area that could be explored more in understanding the public reaction to AGW is “the wisdom of crowds.” In short, if you ask thousands of people to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar, their collective average will be more accurate than any single or small group of jelly bean experts. It seems to me that the “People” have collectively considered AGW and written it off.

    Google has many references, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

    For a crowd to be “wise” it has the following characteristics:
    1) Diversity of opinion
    2) Independence – individuals are not influenced by those around them
    3) Decentralization – diversity of information sources
    4) Aggregation – means for turning private judgements into collective decision

    For failure of groupthink, (and many examples involving the CIA come to mind), the following characteristics are present:
    1) Homogeneity – everyone comes from the same background
    2) Centralization – hierarchical decision making structure
    3) Division – not sharing information
    4) Emotionality – need to belong, peer pressure, collective hysteria

    You can immediately see these categories reflected in the climate change blogs. Why do you suppose WUWT is so popular? Why are the proponent blogs generally so shrill, questioning credentials, crying wolf and fending off new information?

    Why is the MET office so FUBAR? How about the Hadley Center? GISS? NASA?

    As a politician, has Obama actually grasped the “crowd” decision and now deliberately fails to mention AGW in any context at all? What’s up with the pols in Australia?

  29. dp says:

    We probably should not lose track of the fact that having GW in the list at all is an invention. Giving the subject group a blank sheet of paper and a request to list the 10 most pressing concerns in a person’s life I’ve no doubt the spontaneous results would look very different than that from the scripted quiz. A bias is built into the poll but that is the nature of such polls.

  30. rbateman says:

    Yelling fire in a theatre will get you arrested if it’s a prank or false alarm, due to the stampede.
    Yelling fire on a Planetary scale under the same auspices should get you what?

  31. Jimbo says:

    Warmists should realise that the more they scream and wave their hands about the more support they lose? Let’s hope they carry on. Go BBC! Go Guardian! Go Gore! These people are fighting a losing battle even without the efforts from sceptics.

    2008
    Increased Knowledge About Global Warming Leads To Apathy, Study Shows

    November 2010
    Doomsday Messages About Global Warming Can Backfire, Study Shows

  32. Robw says:

    Answer: Another research grant. (unfortunately but this is also changing fast)

  33. woodNfish says:

    Interesting. Basically this is an IQ test with the right column showing those who passed, and the left column showing the useful idiots who don’t seem to believe what their eyes are showing them.

  34. Graeme says:

    Boy – did they ask the wrong question, surely it should have been,

    I’m going to read you a list of environmental problems. As I read each one, please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount I obsess about it all the time, only a little it gives me nightmares and I can’t sleep, or not at all I’ve bought a seaside coastal mansion I’ve bought a survivalist hut on a mountain top to avoid global thermageddon.

    Now it’s fixed.

  35. Graeme says:

    woodNfish says:
    March 29, 2011 at 11:20 am
    Interesting. Basically this is an IQ test with the right column showing those who passed, and the left column showing the useful idiots who don’t seem to believe what their eyes are showing them.

    First one must open their eyes, if they are to see clearly.

  36. marcoinpanama says:

    Jimbo:

    From the first article about increased knowledge leading to skepticism :

    “The findings that the more informed respondents were less concerned about global warming, and that they felt less personally responsible for it, did surprise us. We expected just the opposite.”

    Well how about that? You mean that when people get beyond the MSM and learn more, they understand the shaky underpinnings of the science and back away? Works for me.

    Several (or many – who’s counting) years ago, my friend David Evans moved back to his home in Australia and was hired by the government to help develop the scientific underpinnings for their cap and trade system. He went in with guns blazing to save the world from AGW. Living in the progressive bastion of Palo Alto CA, then home to Steve Schneider (saw his slides before he gave them to Al), I was on board too, harangued the Rotary Club and anybody else who would listen.

    About a year later, David sent some disturbing emails, stating flatly that once he got into the science, he saw that it was misrepresented at best, fraud most likely. I was shocked – shocked I tell you. For about six months I simply assumed that he had gone off the deep end. Then I decided to resolve my cognitive dissonance by learning more for myself. It didn’t take long, reading the actual climategate emails, actual IPCC reports, actual scientific studies, to realize that indeed – at best the science was “unsettled” and at worst, indeed, fraud.

    All of this suggests a somewhat different strategy for dealing with AGW proponents: rather that debating, simply suggest that they LEARN MORE about the subject, maybe providing some helpful links, and ask them to come to their own conclusions.

    Scientific studies prove that education works.

  37. marcoinpanama says:

    Jimbo:

    From the first article:

    “The findings that the more informed respondents were less concerned about global warming, and that they felt less personally responsible for it, did surprise us. We expected just the opposite.

    Well duh. It worked for me.

    Several (or many, who’s counting) years ago, my friend David Evans moved back to his home in Australia and joined the government to apply is substantial scientific intellect to developing their cap and trade program. He went in with guns blazing to save the world from AGW. Living in the progressive bastion of Palo Alto, CA, home at the time to Steve Schneider (saw his slides before he gave them to Al), I was fully on board too, haranguing the Rotary Club and anyone else who would listen about the horrible fate that awaited us all.

    About a year later, I began to get disturbing news from David about the “science” which he was coming to know and how misrepresented and downright fraudulent it was. In order to settle my own cognitive dissonance, I decided to educate myself on the science in order to eliminate the filter of the MSM. After reading the actual climategate emails, the actual IPCC reports, many actual scientific studies, it became clear to me too that the science was, to put the best possible light on it – unsettled.

    All of this suggests a strategy for dealing with our friends in the general public who have picked up the AGW meme – instead of arguing the details ad nauseum, just suggest to them that they might want to learn more about the subject and maybe provide them a few helpful links. Trust them to come to their own conclusions.

    Scientific studies prove that education is the best antidote to the MSM.

  38. Matt Taylor says:

    I think these results can largely be attributed to 1) answers that correspond to areas of environmental concern that have the highest concentrations of anecdotal evidence (the public is much more responsive and in-tune to prima facie visual evidence as well as concerned about those environmental issues facing their local/regional communities and them individually right now), 2) a general lack of foresight and concern about the future in the USA (as exemplified by economic and education based decisions, both individually and as a union), 3) an overall poor job giving the climate change issue its due diligence by the media and insular researchers, and 4) just an overall lack of concern about the environment in this climate of massive concern about the economy (among others). These questions could have been formulated much better since several are extremely similar (i.e., pollution of drinking water/pollution of fresh waterways) and some are highly causally related to a varying degree (i.e., air pollution contributes to global warming; land surface change contributes in a varying degree to global warming; loss of tropical rain forests can contribute to species extinction). Despite limited changes to the priority of environmental concerns by the public over the last decade, according to this poll, there has been an unfortunate decrease in the overall concern for the environment.

  39. GARY KRAUSE says:

    Jim Cole says: “Survey results mostly show that our public education system has totally failed to educate people in their most vital skills – skepticism, debate, and logical expression.”

    Memorize Jim Cole’s comment. Then repeat loudly so all can hear.

  40. Alan F says:

    What no “The capitalist/political hijacking of the once puritanical green movement?”

  41. Brian H says:

    Mods, you’ve had 2 days to respond to

    Andrew30 says:
    March 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm
    Second chart is showing a duplicate of the first chart, not the correct chart that shows the change over time.
    Are you ‘hiding the decline’?

    Are we going to get the correct second survey results? Or just imagine them?

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