What Do Americans Really Think About Climate Change?

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Hardly a day goes by without some new warning about how the climate is being affected by fossil fuel use, and that something needs to be done to undo the effects of climate change. Because of that, it would be easy to assume that everyone is thinking about this topic, and demanding those drastic changes. But is that what is actually happening?

The data tell a different story, as public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman discusses above. While a large percentage of Americans believe that the effects of global warming and climate change have already underway.

Gallup has been tracking American attitudes on global warming for more than two decades. In 1997. 48 percent nationally said that the effects of global warming had already begun. In Gallup's new March poll, 60 percent gave that response. Just 12 percent said that the effects would never happen.

On the list of priorities, climate change ranks fairly low on Americans' list of important things.

A majority in Gallup's new poll did not believe global warming would pose a serious threat to them during their lifetimes. That may be one reason why the issue ranks low. When pollsters asked about top priorities for the President and Congress in a January Pew survey, 46 percent said that global climate change should be a top priority. Of the 19 issues Pew asked about, climate change tied for second to last place.

So if climate change is not one of Americans' biggest concerns what is? Well, our thoughts appear to be on issues that are closer to home, and issues that may have more immediate consequences.

More people 62% said that protecting the environment should be a top priority. Terrorism outstripped both as a top priority at 73 percent in Gallup polling. The public worries more about environmental problems they can see in their own communities, such as the pollution of drinking water, than they worried about climate change.

Is climate change an issue on your mind? Share your thoughts with us!

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