Where's the Global Warming Panic? Coming Soon to a TV Screen Near You?

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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.

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  1. Obama says he’ll appoint Gore to a “cabinet-level position, or higher.” Higher? Be afraid.

  2. Wow. 69%.

    If we assume just an 8% “no answer/don’t know/no opinion,” that’s 3:1.

  3. The public has only limited patience for “end of the world” prognostications.

    Possibly because they always turn out to be wrong.

  4. So no explanation #4 ?

    junk science by global warming deniers might be affecting people’s attitudes

  5. junk science by global warming scaremongers might be affecting people’s attitudes

    Fixed it for ya.

  6. Taylor forgot the panic over child predators.

  7. a $300 million anti-global warming television ad blitz today.

    Where does that much money come from for something like this? What motivates those with that much money to spend it in this way?

    Damn, just think what could be accomplished if $300M was spent trying to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. If Al Gore was to find that much money for CF research, I’d nominate him for a Nobel Prize and this time he’d actually deserve the prize. http://www.cff.org

  8. If Al Gore was to find that much money for CF research, I’d nominate him for a Nobel Prize and this time he’d actually deserve the prize.

  9. If Al Gore was to find that much money for CF research, I’d nominate him for a Nobel Prize and this time he’d actually deserve the prize.

    That means Al Gore would be contributing something worthwhile and we can’t have that.

  10. Extremism in the pursuit of moderation is no vice!

  11. Dhafur. Nothing has changed. Was it on your front page today?

  12. Personally, I’m more concerned about rising levels of hey look over there.

  13. Why not admit the obvious? The scientific case for manmade global warming is weakening.

    The earth’s temperature has plateaued since 1998, ocean temps have fallen in the past few years, and scientists have determined that global temperature is strongly correlated with solar activity.

  14. The scientific case for manmade global warming is weakening.

    Cue people asking when Ron will will sides again.

  15. Don’t worry, when the cannibalism kicks in concern will quickly rise to 100%.

    I’ve already picked out a couple co-workers and determined the appropriate sauces.

  16. second will= switch

  17. junk science by global warming deniers might be affecting people’s attitudes

    junk science by global warming scaremongers might be affecting people’s attitudes

    I would say it’s a little bit of column A, a little bit of column B, and when faced with unscientific politicking from both sides, the easiest response is to do nothing.

  18. You’d think 300 mil could support a hell of a lot of research into alternate energy sources. But no, let’s blow it on an ad campaign, because ads are so effective.

  19. Personally, the scientific arguments of MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen make more sense to me than those of Al Gore or any of the politically motivated statements coming from the IPCC.

    I have personally run sophisticated gas demand modelling runs on $50/per ton carbon tax scenarios(the type of run that big energy companies pay a lot of money for us to run)….judging by the coal, oil, gas demand in our models, CO2 ppm in the atmoshpere is not going to be declining any time soon.

    None of the plans being proposed will do a thing about temperatures even if the IPCC theories are completely accurate.
    If the IPCC theories are correct then we will have very clear evidence of huge warming in 10 years with which to formulate policy. Given the media hysteria on the issue I”m not at all worried we wouldn’t make big changes to our energy policy.

    The fear of the global warming nuts seems to be that their theories will prove them to be idiots before they can get us panicked into doing really stupid stuff.

    That makes it fairly transparent that this whole thing is about grabbing power and has nothing to do with the environment.

    How about the vaccination principle? We have been subjected to an increasing amount of misleading propoganda for many topics recently. The media had no trouble publicizing many lies in leading us to war…where did that get us?

    We’ve seen the media ignore the obvious fact that WTC 7 did not get demolished “because of a fire”.

  20. The percentage of Americans who said global warming requires immediate attention declined from 77 in 2006 to 69 percent today

    Then some parts of the country are at 100% because it’s not 7 out of 10 in my neck of the woods.

  21. Al gores ads direct people to visit the website wecansolveit.org
    It’s actually a pretty smart website with good info on some of the solutions. The only problem I have with it is that it is full of suggestions that the government do more. It ironically points out that the market is well on it’s way to producing viable energy alternatives, then follows up each point by saying we need to petition the government to step in.
    the $300 million should have been spent by investing it in renewables.
    IMO, this is proof that al gore’s motives have nothing to do with global warming.

  22. We’ve seen the media ignore the obvious fact that WTC 7 did not get demolished “because of a fire”.

    ruined a decent post with that ending. gotta learn to end on a high note.

  23. “If Al Gore was to find that much money for CF research, I’d nominate him for a Nobel Prize and this time he’d actually deserve the prize. http://www.cff.org

    How about he buys a low-lying island in the tropics and we move everyone with CF there and give them free meds for life?

    Then when the sea levels rise due to climate change, CF ceases to be a problem.

  24. “But that’s misleading; everyone gets “more worried” about everything in a presidential election year.”

    Really? Perhaps that’s true, but do you have some data to back it up?

  25. Wait, you mean Live Earth didn’t raise awareness?

    We clearly need more concerts.

  26. I like how the global warning scare crowd is not only anti-liberal (individuals have rights beyond the powers of the state) as well as anti-democratic.

    I also like how joe who pushes this anti-liberal anti-democratic agenda continues to think he and his comrades are somehow anything but fascists.

    How is being anti-liberal and anti-democratic not fascist?

  27. Besides, as I’ve said, we’ve got plenty of other doomsday scenarios to worry about: the end of the Mayan calendar that will kill us in 4 years, the meteorite that might kill us all in 22 years, the impending robot rebellion…

    Seriously, won’t you all feel foolish if you stop global warming only to get death by Meteor a few years later?

    Start working on that rocket ship and space drills now, America!!!

  28. Explanation #4: Americans aren’t “panicked” because perhaps we’re smarter than we’re given credit for and we correctly don’t care if the climate gets warmer or colder. Our descendants will deal with it just as humans have throughout the past few millenia.

    Move along, now. Nothing to see here.

  29. Seriously, won’t you all feel foolish if you stop global warming only to get death by Meteor a few years later?

    Start working on that rocket ship and space drills now, America!!!

    You fools, what about the death of the sun? In several billion years the Earth will be destroyed!!! We must colonize other solar systems within a few billion years or we’re doomed!

  30. We’ve seen the media ignore the obvious fact that WTC 7 did not get demolished “because of a fire”.

    Ahhhhhhhh…I love this feeling.

  31. opps it looks like Ronald forgot to mention that in those polls they found that the majority of americans do not believe the current warming is man made.

    This little factoid is how I am able to classify Joe as anti-democratic. He wants to push an agenda that lacks popular support.

  32. ZOMG!!!! Fascists!!1!

    Run, everyone! The fascists are coming!!!1!!!

    Not just fascists, but FASCIST SCAREMONGERS who will DOOM US ALL!!!!1!!eleven!!

    I think I finally found one of those chicken littles I’ve been hearing about.

  33. The fear of the global warming nuts seems to be that their theories will prove them to be idiots before they can get us panicked into doing really stupid stuff.

    Yeah. Some people are going to look really, really foolish in a decade. Or maybe not, since the media will simply stop covering the issue as the science becomes clearer. I think it would be hard to find, for instance, any media articles from the 1980’s pointing out how wrong all the ice age Cassandras of the 70’s were.

  34. joe,
    Ahhhhhhhh…I love this feeling.
    why? because some global-warming skeptic stated a nutty position?
    I’ll take 1,000 of him over the unskeptical left when it comes to global warming.

  35. OK, we’ve got Al Gore and the Global Cooling canard.

    Can somebody mention a secret communist conspiracy so we can wrap this up?

  36. Maybe Americans aren’t worried about global warming because global warming isn’t going to affect them. If the temperature rises by a few degrees over the coming decades, our rich, technologically-advanced country will be inconvenienced, but we’ll get through it.

    It’s the Bangladeshis, the Africans, the South Pacific islanders and other poor people in the third world who will bear the brunt of global warming. I’m not surprised in the least that Americans don’t care about that.

  37. Yes, joe, I am proud to announce we DO have a secret communist conspiracy, courtesy of warmenist Dr. James Lovelock:

    “By 2040, China will be uninhabitable.” Lovelock believes that the Chinese, because of their high levels of industrial activity, will be the first to suffer, with the death of all plant life.

    “So I think the Chinese will go to Africa. They are already there, preparing a new continent – the Chinese industrialists who claim to be out there mining minerals are just there on a pretext of preparing for the big move.

    That’s some weapons-grade crazy right there.

  38. I fear a lot of other things before I fear our current warming trend. I’m afraid I’m all feared out.

  39. The only question now is whether the Chinese will kill the Africans, or kill them and eat them.

    Either way, there is no stopping it, global warming is here. I for one welcome our newly overheated globe.

  40. I fear a lot of other things before I fear our current warming trend. I’m afraid I’m all feared out.

  41. You fools, what about the death of the sun? In several billion years the Earth will be destroyed!!!

    I also forgot about the end of the bees; killer bees, dying bats, AIDS, SARS, the bird flu, drugs, the terrorists hiding under our beds, the monkeys, and internet predators.

  42. Where does that much money come from for something like this?

    I suspect its not cash, but ad agencies and networks donating their time (work and broadcast).

    If they work it so its a donation to a 501(c)(3), its deductible.

  43. Personally, I’m afraid of you people. That’s a full time job right there. I don’t have the energy to be afraid of anything else.

  44. It’s actually a pretty smart website with good info on some of the solutions. The only problem I have with it is that it is full of suggestions that the government do more. It ironically points out that the market is well on it’s way to producing viable energy alternatives, then follows up each point by saying we need to petition the government to step in.

    You’re pretty much getting to the heart of why it’s not at the top of my list of worries. None of the government solutions I’ve heard proposed would solve the perceived problem. Human creativity is the only good possibility for solving the problem, and we already have incentives to develop new energy technologies and more efficient energy use, for other reasons. If the most dire predictions are accurate, certain third-world populations will get the worst of it — and they probably have bigger things to worry about. And if I want to get worked up about an environmental problem, I’d worry about global overfishing over global warming.

  45. Maybe folks are worried about GW b/c it’s winter. I know it is silly, but I would bet the same survey in Aug would have different results.

  46. Where does that much money come from for something like this?

    I suspect its not cash, but ad agencies and networks donating their time (work and broadcast).

    If they work it so its a donation to a 501(c)(3), its deductible.

    A good chunk of it is private donations, some from Al Gore’s own fortune. He is donating all profits from his movie/book, and all of his money from the Nobel.

    Of course, as a private citizen advocating for an issue he finds important, Al Gore should be vilified by all libertarians…I mean who does he think he is promoting an issue with private funds like that.

  47. Of course, as a private citizen advocating for an issue he finds important, Al Gore should be vilified by all libertarians…I mean who does he think he is promoting an issue with private funds like that.

    Libertarians also like Baby Eaters International cuz despite their egregiously destructive agenda they pay for all their lies and propaganda with private funds.

  48. I was thinking the same thing, Piledhigh — folks aren’t focused on global warming because they’re coming fresh off of freezing their asses off during one of the colder winters in memory.

    That and all excess panic is being put toward the faltering economy and high gas prices.

  49. Joshua Corning,

    I liked that one.

    Of course, you need to demonstrate that Al Gore’s agenda is inherently egregious to make the joke both funny and accurate.

    His boogey man status doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.

  50. If we had left the CFCs in the aeresol cans and it ate a bigass whole in the ozone, would that have let out the excess carbon dioxide? hmmmm?

  51. whole = hole

    de de deeee

  52. So if we adapt to global warming, and then in a few billion years we colonize a different solar system when the sun is about to destroy earth, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO STOP HEAT-DEATH?

  53. You’d think 300 mil could support a hell of a lot of research into alternate energy sources.

    Mobil Oil Co. did develop a process for refining gasoline from wood back in 1981, at an estimated high cost of $2.51 a gallon.

  54. And if I want to get worked up about an environmental problem, I’d worry about global overfishing over global warming.

    The root of the problem of global overfishing is that the fishermen do not have property rights over the ocean, and that governments are not taking care of the oceans.

  55. You’d think 300 mil could support a hell of a lot of research into alternate energy sources. But no, let’s blow it on an ad campaign, because ads are so effective.

    Yes, “60 Minutes” (apparently…if one trusts “60 Minutes”) showed one ad with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson agreeing that we should take care of the earth and solve this global warming thing.

    So there’s not just one, but *two* men I wouldn’t trust farther than I could throw them, on the same side of this issue. Somehow I wasn’t persuaded.

  56. Wait, you mean Live Earth didn’t raise awareness?

    We clearly need more concerts.

    “We’re sending our love down the well…”

    “All the way down!”

    Sorry, I was just remembering the good ol’ days, when Simpsons episodes were actually funny.

  57. I mean who does he think he is promoting an issue with private funds like that.

    Of course, the “issue” he’s promoting with private funds is to make global warming the reason to cause a “…struggle and a wrenching transformation of society”:

    …embarking on an all-out effort to use every policy and program, every law and institution, every treaty and alliance, every tactic and strategy, every plan and course of action – to use, in short, every means to halt the destruction of the environment . . . . Minor shifts in policy, moderate improvement in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change-these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary.

  58. So if we adapt to global warming, and then in a few billion years we colonize a different solar system when the sun is about to destroy earth, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO STOP HEAT-DEATH?

    Everyone knows that entropy is junk science.

  59. Energy and Environment?

    Any chance of this ‘poll’ being vetted by a reputable outfit?

    And aren’t supposed to ignore polls anyway?

  60. Al Gore is an effeminate homosexual… not that there’s anything wrong with that!!

  61. GLOBAL KOOLING KOMMINIST KONSPIR-A-SEE. SHILLING FOR BIG BLANKET!!!!

    FROTH BLARG A DING DONG DEMAND KURV DEMAND KURV.

  62. Where’s the poll on how many Americans believe the Rapture is going to happen this year? Or within the next five years?

    To me, even one percent would be a whole metric fuckton scarier than even the moonbattiest global warming alarmist crowd.

    And I don’t know how to measure a metric fuckton.

  63. With a fucktonometer. Duh.

  64. “Where does that much money come from for something like this? What motivates those with that much money to spend it in this way?”

    It comes from those who seek to profit in some way from government mandates related to so-called man made global warming.

    It is an up front investment in rent seeking.

  65. Sugarfree – You have to make sure that it’s either a metric fucktonometer or that it has the metric markings along the outside of the US fuckton markings. Honestly, this would all be so much easier if we would just switch to the metric system so we could get rid of the US Standard fuckton.

  66. Where’s the poll on how many Americans believe the Rapture is going to happen this year? Or within the next five years?

    To me, even one percent would be a whole metric fuckton scarier than even the moonbattiest global warming alarmist crowd.

    The Rapturistas aren’t scheming exert control over the global economy and my personal life. At worst, they are transiently annoying in the highly unlikely event you get trapped in a conversation with them.

  67. I nominate a rapturist to win the nobel prize.

  68. We should also have the rapturist look into the meteorolgist at MIT who don’t believe the Rapture theories or Global Carbon tax schemes are well thought out.

  69. Of course, you need to demonstrate that Al Gore’s agenda is inherently egregious to make the joke both funny and accurate.

    No I don’t. Simply because an agenda is being pushed using private funds does not exempt it from criticism by a libertarian. In fact it is pretty moronic to think that it should be.

  70. Global Ennui

    it is too hot to sleep

    but turning on the A/C is like opening the door to artic winter

    so you sweat and lie awake listening to other peoples air conditioners

    so this is what every proposed solution to global warming is really like

    America lies awake sweating while China and India run produce more CO2 than we ever dreamed of.

    Well, at least the Greenies will feel good about themselves.

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