Americans are Stupid When it Comes to Global Warming

  • Published on April 23rd, 2008

Gallup poll on environment

In honor, or dishonor, of Earth Day, a Gallup poll is conducted each year about Americans’ opinions on environmental issues. For 19 years, Americans have been asked to rate their personal environmental concerns and what level of action is required to solve these problems. Despite Al Gore and all of his efforts, public opinion has changed very little in almost two decades on this important global issue.

According to the Gallup poll, 61% of Americans say the effects of global warming have already begun, and they are right. March 2008 recorded the warmest temperatures ever over land surfaces of the world, even though the United States saw average temperatures. Despite these statistic, Americans are not personally worried. In 1990, 35% of Americans worried a “great deal” about global warming. Today, that number has only risen to 37%.

One thing that has increased is Americans’ understanding of global warming, which has increased from 53% reported 16 years ago to 80% currently; however, this understanding has not prompted action. Only 34 % of Americans believe drastic action is needed to curb the effects of global warming, but thankfully governors disagree. On Friday, 18 states signed a decree to reduce greenhouse gases due to federal impotence. “In the absence of federal leadership the states have stepped up,” said Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. For example, by 2050 California plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by 80 percent.

If Americans truly understand the current climate crisis, why don’t they think drastic action is needed immediately? According to the Gallup poll, Americans are more concerned with specific environmental issues, such as clean drinking water and air pollution, than looking at the bigger picture. Granted it is easier to be caught up in issues that affect your immediate health, but when it comes to climate change, all these individual environmental concerns add up to a very sick plant that needs our immediate attention.

Perhaps the reason for Americans’ stupidity on global warming stems from the increase in understanding about the issue. Peter Asmus of the Christian Science Monitor reports:

The success of the environmental movement in calling attention to the dangers of global warming has led to an ironic outcome: It’s become easier for the public to adopt a passive approach as we wait on world leaders to sign emissions treaties or huge corporations to “go green.”

I think Americans should heed the words of the Dalai Lama. Speaking at Crisler Hall Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the exiled Tibetan leader explained, “Taking care of our planet, environment, is something like taking care of our own home. This blue planet is our only home.”

About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play ( "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog:


  • While I acknowledge that the numbers have changed little since their first recording, the graph shows some interesting trends that I believe were misconstrued here.

    First, you have the steady decline of the drastic action trendline from '96 to '03. Paired with the simultaneous steady incline of the "Don't do any extra" trendline. I believe these can be attributed to the extended disappearance of 1970's activism and environmentalism.

    Furthermore, the trends displayed post-2000 are a result of the harsh language and utter failure to address the issue of global warming used by the embarrassment that is the Bush Administration.

    However, after the declines up to that point, Al Gore as well as corporate leaders acknowledged the issue, U.S. environmentalism shot up and we have made huge gains in the last five years.

    I foresee this trend continuing, green will not be a fad, it will be mandatory. Those companies who implement with the highest standards and whom display leadership will increase their brand values tremendously. Corporations who fail at this, will cease to exist without radical overhaul of their business.

  • On Earth Day, I bought a new car.

    The good news is that, since my old car had been running for a good 6 months with the “Check engine” light on, I’m probably fouling the air less than I was the day before.

  • Its just that most people think evironmentalists are just crying wolf again. My whole f#$%#$ life greens have been telling me the world is going to end and I should be ashamed to be human.

    Eventually I got the smarts to just stop listening to them.

  • Have you ever heard the phrase "Don't believe everything you think?"

    Well Mick thought that the "Greens" were telling him those things because one of the "Reds" told him to think that. Since Mick ain't listening, Mick is part of the problem.

    I expanded my gardens this year and my vegetables, and have planted 2 new trees in the yard.

    Bought a bike, need to ride it more to the store and friends.

    I see my neighbors put out 6 trash cans a week, I put out 1 can with one bag every 2 weeks. I recycle most anything I can.

    Put all electronics on power strips and shut off all of them when not in use.

    And I could go on. We can't wait for the Bush species to have some genetic change anytime soon, so get busy.

    As for the Micks of the world, when they are impacted first-hand, they'll wake up. And it will be the hunger in their tummies that motivates them to yell at the government for not doing anything, and it is them that will stand in line with the rest, only they will be able to blame someone else.

    Take personal responsibility for every action of your day. What you do, or don't do, is all that you can do.

  • Dear Mick,

    perhaps you have the wrong understanding. Most are not sayng that world will end, but that our planet is in dire need of care. And most do not say that we shoudl all be ashamed to be human. To be human means that we make mistakes, and try to fix them. Take the abilities and gifts that were given to you, and use them to your advantage.

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