Only 25 Percent See Global Warming Threat
In spite of the mediaâ€™s obsession with global warming, only 25 percent of Americans view climate change as the worldâ€™s biggest environmental threat, according to a new ABC News poll. Fewer than half â€“ 47 percent â€“ viewed global warming as â€śextremelyâ€ť or â€śveryâ€ť important to them.
Those numbers and others from the poll donâ€™t fit the common media theme that there is a scientific â€śconsensusâ€ť on global warming: that it is caused by humans and will have catastrophic consequences.
Those poll numbers gave way to more media spin in an ABC â€śWorld News Saturdayâ€ť report August 9.
â€śAfter years of debate over the reality of global warming, 80 percent of those polled now say they accept it as fact,â€ť anchor Bill Weir reported. â€śSeventy-three percent say it is a threat to todayâ€™s children and 63 percent believe people and industry are to blame.â€ť
But Weir didnâ€™t mention that while 80 percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring, they see much more nuanced debate over the causes and potential effects. While the media have tried to silence debate on global warming â€“ as the Business & Media Institute showed in its report, â€śGlobal Warming Censoredâ€ť â€“ the American people understand there is still not a consensus.
Sixty-three percent said there is â€śa lot of disagreement among scientistsâ€ť on the causes of global warming. Only 33 percent of respondents said they think â€śthings people doâ€ť are mostly responsible for climate change, down from 41 percent in April 2007.
The media offer catastrophic predictions on the effects of global warming on everything from floods to fires to the cute and cuddly polar bears. Even with the media ignoring the debate, 62 percent of Americans realize scientists disagree on how serious a threat climate change actually poses.
And even though the media tend to run to the government for fixes to global warming problems, Americans seem have more faith in markets. Forty-three percent said the government would do a better job reducing warming, while 45 percent said businesses are better equipped to address the problem through market-based competition.
Support for government programs aimed at reducing carbon emissions might be lower if the media reported the severe cost of legislative proposals like the failed Lieberman-Warner bill. That legislation would have established a carbon cap-and-trade system. According to some estimates, it would have cost every man, woman and child nearly $500 a year.
The poll results suggested the media have some work to do to build its own credibility. Only 38 percent of respondents said â€śmostâ€ť or â€śallâ€ť of written and broadcast news is accurate.
The media are hyping global warming now, but in the past 100 years of coverage on â€śclimate changeâ€ť issues, they have flip-flopped between cooling and warming dangers several times. The Business & Media Instituteâ€™s special report, â€śFire and Ice,â€ť showed that as recently as 30 years ago, the media warned of a coming ice age.