After Sandy, even the doubters are starting to believe in global warming

  • Published on December 14th, 2012

Sandy did it. The oil companies and their GOP allies have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to convince you that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by greedy scientists who just want more grant money… but in the wake of record heatwaves, drought, and one of the most destructive storms in US history, people are coming around to believing that yes, the world really is warming.

(Someone should explain to those silly scientists: If it’s all about grant money, wouldn’t it be easier to just go direct to the oil companies? Hm… maybe it’s not really about the grant money.)

As Stanford University social psychologist and pollster Jon Krosnick told the AP,  ”They don’t believe what the scientists say, they believe what the thermometers say. Events are helping these people see what scientists thought they had been seeing all along.”

Krosnkick helped the AP do its latest survey, which found that belief in global warming was up to 78 percent.

The bad news: The GOP war on science has convinced a wide swath – 32 percent! – of the US public not to trust scientists.

The good news: Those folks who are coming around anyway. As the AP’s Seth Borenstein notes,

Belief and worry about climate change are inching up among Americans in general, but concern is growing faster among people who don’t often trust scientists on the environment. In follow-up interviews, some of those doubters said they believe their own eyes as they’ve watched thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar ice melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up.

Or, as Hamilton Knowlton puts it at Gawker, “Even idiots believe in global warming now”.

And among the remnant of hard-core deniers, their sense of surety seems to be melting away like Arctic ice. The survey did follow-ups with the 18% who said – despite all the evidence – they remained convinced that temperatures had not been rising. And they found that even there, the attitudes have shifted since 2009’s survey.

In response to the question, ”

  • Extremely sure: 9% (down from 24%)
  • Very sure: 22% (down from 28%)
  • Somewhat sure: 37% (up from 27%)
  • Not sure at all: 28% (up from 21%)

And the really good news: 77%  of those surveyed said the government should bloody well DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Coming on the 77 percent say the government should do something about climate changeheels of an election campaign in which just about the only mentions of climate change came from Republicans laughing at it, this should be a red-hot reality check for our politicians – like all the Republican committee chairmen in Congress who are climate change deniers….

(Full numbers here.)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.