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Regarding polls on climate issues

global-warming

 

More than a few of America’s most notable political pundits seemed to have failed to notice the full importance of a certain sequence of events:

When President Trump returned from his trip abroad a few weeks ago, he pointedly bragged that he has withdrawn American support for the Paris Accords regarding climate change. But if he expected applause for this gesture from the nation’s populace, he was wrong. The fact is that most Americans disagree with the president on climate issues.

But there’s a slipperiness, it seems to me, in the results of polls on climate change. It’s a big, amorphous issue, and most public awareness of the matter is not rooted in a clear understanding of all the scientific aspects.

Still, we can at least celebrate the fact that most Americans finally say climate change is real and poses problems to the human race. (A funny thing about these polls: They show a greater concern about “climate change” than about “global warming.” Sizable segments of the public simply don’t like the latter term.)

Of course, public opinion on climate matters has been gradually evolving over the past 40 years or so. It was not until the 1970s that the mainstream media began paying attention to the subject. Since then, the debate gradually has grown more intense — and public opinion has slowly shifted to the so-called green side of the matter.

But climate issues sometimes have become wrapped up in other political matters.  For example, hatred of Barack Obama was so intense among fire-eating right-wingers that it seemed to influence their responses to what he said as president about the climate. Whenever Obama dared to show concern about global warming, Republican politicians scoffed at such “political correctness” (as they called it). That’s not so much the case anymore.

Promoting public awareness of environmental issues always has been a slow process — mainly because the negative effects don’t all show up at the same time. But if you list all those effects that have occurred over the past half-century, the impact can be staggering.

It also helps, of course, that we currently are stuck with an unpopular president who has long been outspoken about his rejection of global-warming theories. Trump can count on his loyal base for support on climate matters, but most Americans are not members of his fan club. Most folks feel free to buck the president on these issues.

 

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