Trump’s Climate Denial Has Backfired – Americans More Concerned Than Ever

There may be some silver lining to having a president with such staunch views against the environment: namely that his blatantly anti-scientific views have coincided with a sharp rise in Americans believing that climate change is real, manmade and urgently concerning.

An ongoing survey conducted jointly by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication saw some telling spikes in the most recent update. Most notably, in the span of a year, the number of Americans who described climate change as “personally important” jumped nine points from 63 percent to 72 percent.

Considering that for so long people have brushed off climate change as someone else’s problem, that’s a clear sign that people are starting to get that the effects of climate change are tangible now and they are not immune. It’s no wonder that in the same year span the number of people “worried” by climate change rose from 61 percent to 69 percent.

“I’ve never seen jumps in some of the key indicators like this,” Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication told the New York Times.

He attributes some of that change in public perception to Donald Trump himself. Granted, the commander in chief is promoting a contradictory message with lots of climate denial rhetoric, but it’s obviously not working.

The president is unpopular and frequently caught in lies, but it’s not as simple as people now take the opposite stance as Trump. Instead, a lot of the difference in public opinion seems to be the direct result of the media being forced to finally cover climate change in a way it hasn’t before in light of all of Trump’s false claims. “Every time he talks about climate change, he drives more media attention to the exact issue,” said Leiserowitz.

Look, it’s no secret that network and cable news has historically devoted next to no time to the subject, despite the peril global warming poses. By being compelled to repeatedly fact-check the president and report on him inanely pulling out of the Paris agreement and all of the shenanigans at the EPA, journalists are presenting Americans with the story and science more often and the discussions continue from there.

Case in point, when the Trump administration tried to bury an alarming climate change report prepared by 13 federal agencies by quietly dumping it the day after Thanksgiving, that gave journalists an extra hook to share not just the report but the shadiness of the White House trying to conceal it. As a result, that plan “backfired,” and members of the public almost certainly heard more details from the report in the news than they would have otherwise.

While the increased awareness of climate change and the need to address it immediately is welcome, that in itself doesn’t get the job done. We can ironically “credit” Trump with helping to fuel the changing tides of public perception, but it’s still very detrimental to have someone like him in office making decisions that undermine environmental action.

Our next set of leaders needs to take this unprecedented consensus and commit to smart, aggressive policies to belatedly try to protect the planet or this newfound understanding is all for nothing.

83 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad A6 days ago

Let us translate this into collective action.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel B11 days ago

Mark Donner.
If anyone is still following this thread.... Don't underestimate friend Dan B (and why are you Americans so aggressive in your criticism, no need to call adveraries unpleasant names!) he may be, as you say, 'self educated' but he does at least always come up with 'scientific' web-sites that back up his reasoning. Hearing alternative views broadens the mind!

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Mark Donner
Mark D14 days ago

And by the way Dan B. if you're not like Trump and you can read you should study how global wind patterns and the jet stream are being disrupted by climate change which is shoving arctic air south into North America before picking up a snowball and saying see global warming doesn't exist or something.

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Mark Donner
Mark D14 days ago

I wouldn't even debate with Dan B. He pretends to be an "intellectual" with his professor 4 eyes labcoat thingy but he's as stupid as they come and saying that the accelerating planetary destruction that even a five year old or any moron can witness doesn't exist or is "good for you". Self educated and obviously pimping for the oil companies. Dan B. could be shrugged off as a clown, but he's promoting destruction of the Earth which is beyond a clown show.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan B17 days ago

Annabel B.,
Thanks. I put on extra coffee and a warm sweater this morning. Our business facility closed today and they told everyone to work from home.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel B17 days ago

Dan B
Yes, I've seen reports of your plight on the television and indeed good luck to you. Meanwhile my Australian friends are wilting in temperatures well over 40C degrees, hottest on record in some places they say. You would say these extremes have no connection with climate change. Who knows.....

Sorry about my shaky maths. Writing in a hurry is asking too much of my first-thing-in-the-morning brain. But sixty years is still a short time to turn things round when possible natural slowing down of the temperature rise is only hypothetical. Interesting that you are happy with the opinions of what you call 'most scientists' who believe in natural slowing but dismiss the science of what many others would call 'most scientists' who advocate human intervention to prevent further rise before it's too late.

Keep warm!!!!!!

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan B17 days ago

Annabel B.,
Let me just add that we are experiencing a true emergency here today. Temperatures are -20F, and the local utility has called on everyone to lower their thermostats to conserve natural gas. Many business are closed today. Make shift shelters are opening to care for the indigent. Wish us luck.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan B17 days ago

Annabel B,
Fist, it is sixty years away. Second, that is if current trends continue. Most scientists predict the natural warming portion to wane, such that only the man made warming continues. If so, that would extend the time frame much further into the future. My point is that this is not an emergency, as we have a significant amount of time to determine how much of a threat this might become and how to address it. I am not saying do nothing, but any rush to judgement would be folly.

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Annabel Bedini
Annabel B18 days ago

Dan B
Yes, sorry, I should not have said acidification but rising ocean temperatures causing coral bleaching. Do you dispute that? It does seem to be quoted as the cause on every web-site available to me. And surely increased ocean temperatures are due to global warming which is due to increased CO2 and methane and this brings us back to square one. But of course you will tell me I am wrong......

As for reaching 2.2 degrees around 2080 if present temperature rise continues , that is only forty years away. I would call this an emergency.

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Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay K18 days ago

Many thanks for sharing. Thank goodness for silver linings!!

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