Here’s What Happens When You Ask Americans if Global Warming is Real
Part of Gallup’s Climate Change series, Gallup conducted a recent poll on Americans’ attitudes towards global warming and found three categories of attitudes: Concerned Believers, Cool Skeptics and the Mixed Middle.
Understanding attitudes is important because there’s strength in numbers. While the good news is that more Americans believe in global warming, more Americans also don’t believe in global warming. The ones who aren’t sure are the most vulnerable. While we stay divided, then we’ll have to leave solving global warming to our leaders because we can’t do it without a unified front.
Who Are These People?
- Concerned Believers: They consider that global warming is a result of man-made actions, and they are concerned. And 60 percent of Concerned Believers are made up of women. Concerned Believers tend to be younger than 50-years-old, and they tend to lean Democrat.
- Cool Skeptics: They are not very worried, if at all, about global warming. Men make up 66 percent of the Cool Skeptic category. Cool Skeptics are usually over 50-years-old and they self-identify as Republican.
- Mixed Middle: They are torn in their beliefs and in their concern; they believe a combination of Concerned Believer and Cool Skeptics beliefs. While there is a mixture of men and women, there are more women in this cluster. While education isn’t a distinctive feature among the other groups, most of the respondents in the Mixed Middle group don’t have strong educational backgrounds.
There Are More Believers and More Skeptics
While the good news is that close to 40 percent of the respondents fall into the Concerned Believers cluster, 1 in 4 are still Cool Skeptics. The Mixed Middle group ranked smack in the middle with 36 percent of the vote.
According to Gallup, compared to previous polls from 2001, while the Cool Skeptics’ numbers have grown since 2001, the Mixed Middle’s numbers have taken a nosedive; the Mixed Middle used to hold the majority.
While it can be argued that most Americans are taking a stand, why are the Cool Skeptics’ numbers getting hotter?
What to Believe?
Needless to say, Concerned Believers and Cool Skeptics have polar opposite mentalities. The differences behind a great or fair amount of worry versus a little or not at all worry are fascinating:
- While Concerned Believers have faith in the alarming media reports, Cool Skeptics’ scrutinizing eye perceives them to be exaggerated.
- While all of Concerned Believers believe that global warming is a result of human pollution, all of the Cool Skeptics believe that the earth’s increased temperature is a result of “natural changes in the environment.”
- While two-thirds of Concerned Believers felt that they would feel a direct change(s) in their lifestyles, none of the Cool Skeptics felt that global warming would affect their lifestyles.
- Mixed Middle individuals agree with both. For example, while some might believe that global warming is real, they don’t believe that they will feel the impacts.
Does it Even Matter?
Other data (e.g., Yale University’s research) aligns with Gallup’s research for the most part; more Americans believe that global warming is real, but there are also plenty of skeptics.
Mother Jones describes that more Americans have become “hardened,” or steadfast, in their position, except one. The most susceptible group to change positions is the Mixed Middle group because they just don’t know where they stand. They also don’t know all of the facts. As reported in Mother Jones:
Those are the people who aren’t paying attention, and don’t know much about the issue. So they’re the most open-minded, and the most swayable based on recent events.
Some climate analysts believe that what we believe doesn’t matter much. One claims that the majority isn’t going to care until it’s fight-or-flight crisis mode, and it’ll probably be too late by then. Solving problems like global warming will require “enlightened leadership” to lead the way. While they claim that our leaders are already leading the way, examples like our leaders’ handling of the Keystone XL pipeline make you question how enlightened some leaders really are.
Global Warming Isn‘t a Game
Your opinion does matter. Do you want to rely on a stranger — and their intellect, level of enlightenment, susceptibility to persuasion or ability not to cave to corporate lobbyists — to solve global warming for you?
Strength in numbers makes leadership listen, so the Mixed Middle group needs some help. Unfortunately, they can’t solely rely on popular media to make an informed decision. For example, in a roundabout way, NBC recently tried to pinpoint a cold weekend to disprove global warming. Yet, one event or trend, isn’t enough to prove or disprove anything.
Care2 members, get and stay informed always because everyone has an agenda to push, and global warming isn’t always a top priority.
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