Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jerry Taylor points out that a new poll finds that Americans are not panicked about man-made global warming. To wit:
According to today's Energy & Environment Daily (subscription required), a new poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates and released by the John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress at New York University finds that Americans are less worried about climate change than they were a couple of years ago.
E&E Daily reports that the survey's margin of error was +/- 3 percent. Here are the highlights:
The percentage of Americans who said global warming requires immediate attention declined from 77 in 2006 to 69 percent today.
The percentage of Americans who said they were "very worried" about global warming increased from 31 percent in 2006 to 39 percent in 2008. But that's misleading; everyone gets "more worried" about everything in a presidential election year. What's striking to me is that the rise in the number of those "very worried" about global warming was less than the rise in the number of those "very worried" about the four other issues surveyed by Brademas Center (Medicare, Social Security, and energy).
The declining number of those who said they were "somewhat worried" about global warming more than offset the increase of those who reported being "very worried."
There are several possible explanations for this data. My guess is that it's a little of each of the following.
Explanation #1 – The public has only limited patience for "end of the world" prognostications. If the world isn't visibly ending from whatever boogey man is said to menace said world, most of us begin to lose interest. We're all well aware that Earth has been sentenced to doom hundreds of times over by activists of various stripes but has somehow gained a reprieve time and time again.
Explanation #2 – The time horizon of most voters is very, very short. Getting people to voluntarily sacrifice for "the grandkids" or whomever is a near-impossible task. It would probably take a Katrina-a-year … and even then, that might not be enough. The mathematical certainty regarding the economic train wreck about to be visited upon "the grandkids" as a consequence of the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities for present federal health care and retirement programs does not engender sacrifice. It engenders shrugs and accelerated wealth transfers from the future to the present.
Explanation #3 – Global warming, if it plays out as the IPCC suspects, will be a slow-moving event. Panic over climate change has to compete with panic over Islamic terrorism, panic over housing markets, panic over globalization, panic over energy prices, panic over immigration, and episodic panic over dozens of other (usually dubious) worries. Simply put, global warming has a hard time competing with all of the other items on the policy agenda.
In an attempt to panic, uh, inform, Americans about the urgency of dealing with man-made global warming, Nobel Peace Prize and Oscar-winner Al Gore is launching a $300 million anti-global warming television ad blitz today.
Whole Taylor Cato post here.