A large majority of Americans (87%, down 5 percentage points since Fall 2012) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a “very high” (26%), “high” (32%), or medium priority (28%). Few say it should be a low priority (12%).
Most Americans (70%, down 7 points since Fall 2012) say global warming should be a “very high” (16%), “high” (26%), or “medium priority” (29%) for the president and Congress. Three in ten (28%) say it should be a low priority.
Six in ten Americans (59%) say the U.S. should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do. Relatively few (10%) say the U.S. should reduce its emissions only if other industrialized and/or developing countries do - and only 6 percent of Americans say the U.S. should not reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Americans say that corporations and industry (70%), citizens themselves (63%), the U.S. Congress (57%), and the President (52%) should be doing more to address global warming.
Majorities of Americans support:
Providing tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (71%);
Funding more research into renewable energy sources (70%);
Regulating CO2 as a pollutant (68%);
Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to pay down the national debt (61%);
Eliminating all subsidies for the fossil-fuel industry (59%);
Expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast (58%);
Requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it costs the average household an extra $100 a year (55%).
Support for some of these policies, however, has fallen since 2008, including funding renewable energy research (-21 percentage points), expanding offshore drilling (-17 points), and tax rebates for energy efficient vehicles and solar panels (-15 points).
Half of Americans (50%) have never heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. Moreover, few Americans say they are following the issue closely (18%). Among those Americans who have heard of the Keystone pipeline, about two in three support the project (63%).
The report includes an Executive Summary and reports trends in key indicators over the past several years. It can be downloaded here:
About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
About two out of three Americans say weather in the U.S. has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012. By contrast, fewer Americans say weather has been getting better over the past several years - only one in ten (11%), down 16 points compared to a year ago.
Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) or an extreme heat wave (51%).
Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012).
Over half of Americans (54%) believe it is “very” or “somewhat likely” that extreme weather will cause a natural disaster in their community in the coming year.
Americans who experienced an extreme weather event are most likely to have communicated about it person-to-person - either in person (89%) or on the phone (84%).
The report includes an Executive Summary and a breakdown of results by region and can be downloaded here.
Attacks on my work aimed at undermining climate change science have turned me into a public figure. I have come to embrace that role. By Michael E. Mann | March 27, 2013
As a climate scientist, I have seen my integrity perniciously attacked. Politicians have demanded I be fired from my job because of my work demonstrating the reality and threat of human-caused climate change. I’ve been subjected to congressional investigations by congressman in the pay of the fossil fuel industry and was the target of what TheWashington Post referred to as a “witch hunt” by Virginia’s reactionary Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. I have even received a number of anonymous death threats. My plight is dramatic, but unfortunately, it is not unique; climate scientists are regularly the subject of such attacks. This cynicism is part of a destructive public-relations campaign being waged by fossil fuel companies, front groups, and individuals aligned with them in an effort to discredit the science linking the burning of fossil fuels with potentially dangerous climate change.
My work first appeared on the world stage in the late 1990s with the publication of a series of articles estimating past temperature trends. Using information gathered from records in nature, like tree rings, corals, and ice cores, my two coauthors and I had pieced together variations in the Earth’s temperature over the past 1,000 years. What we found was that the recent warming, which coincides with the burning of fossil fuels during the Industrial Revolution, is an unprecedented aberration in this period of documented temperature changes, and recent work published in the journal Science suggests that the recent warming trend has no counterpart for at least the past 11,000 years, and likely longer. In a graph featured in our manuscript, the last century sticks out like the blade of an upturned hockey stick.
The graph, now known as the hockey-stick graph, has become an icon in the climate-change debate, providing potent, graphic evidence of human-caused climate change. As a result, the fossil fuel industry and those who do their bidding saw the need to discredit it in any way they could, and I have found myself at the receiving end of attacks and threats of investigations, as I describe in my recent book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) denounced my work on the Senate floor and called me to testify to his committee under hostile questioning. Two years later, House Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) attempted to subpoena all of my emails and research documents from my entire career, and the correspondence and files of both my senior coauthors, presumably looking for some way to both intimidate and discredit me. Inhofe and Barton are two of the largest recipients of fossil fuel money in the U.S. Congress. More recently, Ken Cuccinelli, the newly minted “Tea Party” Republican Attorney General of Virginia, took a page out of the same playbook, demanding all of my emails with 39 different scientists around the world from my time at the University of Virginia, claiming that he was investigating potential state fraud.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been subject to a constant onslaught of character attacks and smears on websites, in op-eds, and on right-leaning news outlets, usually by front groups or individuals tied to fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil or the petrochemical tycoons, the Koch Brothers. As the journal Nature put it a March 2010 editorial, climate researchers are in a street fight with those who seek to discredit the accepted scientific evidence simply because it is inconvenient for some who are profiting from fossil fuel use.
But being the focus of such attacks has a silver lining: I’ve become an accidental public figure in the debate over human-caused climate change.
Now watching: Climate Skepticism & Science’s Role in Political Science.
A panel of climate and science experts discuss the role science plays in fostering healthy skepticism of political science regarding the climate. The percentage of Americans today who say humans are the primary cause of global warming is much lower than it was in the second term of President George W. Bush.
Skeptics are winning the climate communication battle even as temperatures rise and the number and intensity of floods and droughts increase worldwide. What role does the scientist play in the communication, and what messages will reach the skeptics’ ears?
Michael Mann, professor of Geosciences at Penn State and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, spoke of the so-called “hockey stick” curve he and his co-authors published more than a decade ago. The curve showed that “recent warming exceeded anything that we’ve seen for at least the past 1,000 years,” Mann explained. The graph became an icon in the climate change debate. “If I’m going to be put in the limelight in the way that our detractors have tried to put me in the limelight,” Mann stated, “I’m going to try to take advantage of that, and the book was part of my effort to do that.”
According toKatharine Hayhoe, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas Tech University and co-author of A Climate for Change, Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, climate change is so polarized right now, “that if we, as scientists, are not getting attacked, then we’re not talking to the right people.” Comparing herself to a doctor who finds a red flag for a potential disease, she said, “We’re taking the temperature of the planet, we’re seeing some red flags and we have a responsibility to tell people about that.”
Bill Anderegg, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University researching forests and the American West, spoke of a study his team did on climate change, which was widely accepted by scientists. According to Anderegg, the study did two things: “First, we found that there’s an incredibly high agreement behind what the IPCC had articulated as the main components of human-caused climate change. And second, that those who are publicly doubting and expressing their lack of agreement essentially were not very well qualified.” He spoke of his surprise at the immediate backlash: “Suddenly, your e-mail address is across a dozen blogs that are not very friendly.”
How does an organization that reports on the weather insert itself into the debate without getting political? Just take a look at the Weather Company, the parent company of the Weather Channel and Weather Underground.
“We insert climate into every weather story,” says David Kenny, CEO of the Weather Company. “We’re scientific journalists. We start with science and try to tell scientifically based stories. It’s not a political point of view.”
That means a story about Superstorm Sandy doesn’t just discuss the facts of the storm. It also delves into the science behind it—and how that might relate to climate change. A blog from meteorologist Stu Ostro on Weather Underground, for example, goes into detail on the storm’s path, and then explains how climate change plays a part.
In an on-camera segment on the Weather Channel, he stated the issue plainly: “In the wake of Sandy, there have been two opposite, extreme reactions: either, ‘Of course global warming caused it,’ or, ‘That’s balderdash!’ What we need to do take a step back, take a deep breath, and objectively assess what role if any global warming may have played. When we do that, given the storm’s track and meteorological nature, its context amongst other extreme events and patterns in recent years, and what one would expect to see in a warmed climate system and the physical processes involved, a reasonable initial conclusion is that global warming—the changing climate—did contribute to the outcome.”
“What happens when you trade the foundations of your society for cash?” - Céline Rouze, a brave journalist who wrote Exxon Mobil’s Papua New Guinea LNG Project. This project is the largest energy project in the history of the entire Pacific Rim. Exxon’s promises of economic development has instead brought chaos and violence.
Céline Rouze is very courageous journalist. People like her give me hope…
nturlbruntt asked: I had a client tell me the other day that we're not headed towards a warm climate, but an ice age. The planet has to warm up in order to cool down. (or so he claimed). Is there any truth to this?
Thanks for your note and absolutely not! The earth is at its hottest point in over 11,000 years.
Your client believes a rumor from the 1970s, one that won’t die apparently. It was dismissed, debunked, defrocked, and deblorgged decades ago, but has resurfaced as a rather brilliant right-wing political talking point.
97% of climate scientists agree the earth is warming. This is the highest agreement in any of the sciences in all of history. Second, the vast majority of scientists in the 1970s agreed global warming was occurring, that humans are causing it by emitting greenhouse gases, and that the earth is in big, big trouble.
Back in 2005, climate scientists at Real Climate took the time to discuss the origins of the rumor, show who restarted it, and describe why it’s completely false. You an read their post, here.
In 2008, the American Meteorological Society published a special article on this myth. It’s a great read, very short. It describes the history of the myth (it also gives a glimpse at how scientists suck at PR).
At the end of the day, your client is acting as proxy for the fossil fuel industry. This may sound crazy, but his/her’s real argument is that oil and gas should not be regulated, that they should be able to pollute without regulations. People who argue that that the world is cooling, instead of warming, are really saying that there is no need to regulate pollution or emissions.
What’s even more bizarre is that they may not even realize this.
Naomi Oreskes discusses how this happened in her book,Merchants of Doubt, which shows that oil and gas industries hired the same public relations experts that defended the tobacco industry in the 80s. Recall that the tobacco industry - and the politicians they donated to - denied that cigarettes caused cancer (seriously), and they successfully perpetuated that myth for decades.
And that, my friend, is how an industry and politicians manipulate public opinion.
Curtis Brainard, who writes about science journalism for the Columbia Journalism Review, harshly criticized Times management for the move and posted an apologetic e-mail message sent by Nancy Kenney, the former deputy environment editor, to the blog’s contributors.
The news side of The Times has nine sports blogs; nine spanning fashion, lifestyles, health, dining and the like; four business blogs; four technology blogs (five if you include automobiles as a technology); and a potpourri of other great efforts, with four of my favorites being the Learning Network blog, Scientist at Work, the IHT Rendezvous blog on global news and Lens, run by the paper’s photo staff. You can tour the paper’s blogosphere here.
The Anti-Science Left. A wonderful set of interviews on how the left denies science. (Warning: Chris Moody is as smug as ever, but the rest of the video is great.). They discuss Mark Lynas’s switch from anti-GMO to supporting GMOs by looking at the reams of scientific data. The great science writer Michael Shermer discusses evolution and climate change, and makes the case that despite all the doom in the news, humans and the environment are much better now than ever in history. Great conversation.
Four climate communication’s specialists present this excellent panel session at the 2011 American Geophysical Union conference.
Susan Joy Hassol director of of the non-profit science and outreach project, Climate Communications, starts this session on communication with a casual-yet-important observation that the public rarely reacts to new information unless there is an incentive.
The second speaker, John Cook who runs Skeptical Science presents practical tips for scientists respond to climate deniers and other media backlash. His approach is to provide scientific evidence to combat myths, yet he’s quite aware that this is not very effective.
Edward Maibach, who I’ve worked with in the past, runs George Mason’s 4C program (Center for Climate Change Communication), discusses a three-part strategy that anyone, even non-scientists can employ for effective communications: Trust, short messaging, and audience research.
I think this is one of the better walks through the problems of communicating climate science with the general public. From the description:
Addressing issues related to effective public ‘climate communications’ may require including subjects outside of one’s field of expertise.
This discussion explores real and perceived challenges regarding how to bridge the gap between expertise and relevant related cause and effect relationships to enhance effective climate communications without abandoning scientific integrity.
This delves into the differences between science, scientific opinion and general opinion. To convey the physical reality of climate change, it helps to convey ‘what climate change means’ to people in their everyday lives. For this reason, scientists need to consider how to discuss related issues, while maintaining scientific integrity.
On that note, this wraps up Climate Science Communications Week at Climate Adaptation! What did you think? Should I do another week to a single topic? What did you learn? Did you find videos were mo’ beddah than my text posts? Send your feedback to my ask box or to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit
The speakers explored several practical solutions and then launch into a decent Q&A. Some were simple, such as directing readers to share their reading materials or collaborate with authors from various news outlets (e.g., Mother Jones partnering with, say, Washington Post to work on and cross-post the same stories, which would reach different audiences.). It was good to hear some practical solutions rather than esoteric brainstorming.
The public is poorly served by reports about climate change that follow familiar lines and surface only when there’s a severe weather event or UN conference; meanwhile, media outlets like the New York Times are scaling back on environmental reporting.
Orion and media watchdog Free Press convened a panel of authors and activists (including Kate Sheppard, M. Sanjayan, Bill McKibben, and others) to propose concrete actions for improving the state of climate reporting in the mainstream media.
Climate Science Communications Week is winding down at Climate Adaptation! For the entire week of Feb. 18 - 23, I covered how climate change is discussed by the media, scientists, researchers, academics, and politicians. If you have sources or ideas on communicating climate change, send to: http://climateadaptation.tumblr.com/submit
Nice, frank talk with students. Worth listening to if you’re a budding environmentalist. Peter challenges some of the norms students learn in their classes, such as the notion that environmentalists should work with - not against - businesses and governments. There’s also a very good essay discussed in the stream, which you can read here.
Peter Kareiva, chief scientist and director of science at The Nature Conservancy, visited my class “Environmental Communications in the Anthropocene” to talk about the crucial intersections of conservation and communications, science and storytelling.