Climate Change and Public Belief

A new poll released yesterday showed that fewer Americans “believe in climate change” than either one or two years ago.  http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/6681696.html
As can be seen from the comments to this, some people find it a vindication of their political position.  To me, the more important question is why this issue has become so politicized.  As the readers of this blog know, I do believe he scientific evidence that climate change (primarily a warming in earth’s average temperature which can change weather patterns) is occuring and that humans play a role in it.  As this poll shows, however, a large number of Americans (very much characterized by political affiliation) do not even believe that the average temperature of the earth has warmed (which is a fact that has been measured and is under no dispute even from political leaders).

I recently spent time with United Kingdom Members of Parliament vsiting their US counterparts, and was interested that they were most surprised that the issue of climate change had political ramifications.  In the UK, all of the politicians – Conservative, Labor, and Liberal – all believe that climate change is occuring because of human activity, and only differ on the proper response.

It may be unfortunate that Al Gore is so associated with climate change since many persons, particularly conservatives dislike him, and I will be the first to admit that some environmentalists have exagerrated the impacts of climate change and often appear to be more focused on behavior change instead of solving climate change, but this doesn’t mean that global warming and its climate change effects aren’t real.

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