Public Rejects Conservative Views on Global Warming

Conservatives are trying to convince the public of three things on global warming. The first is that human-induced climate change either isn’t really happening or is vastly exaggerated. The second is that the United States should not sign any international agreements designed to combat climate change. And the third is that action against global warming will wind up killing jobs and harming the economy.

By the evidence of recently released polling data, this strategy is failing on all fronts. For example, despite all the publicity around the hacked e-mails of some British climate scientists, the public remains resoundingly convinced that global warming is primarily caused by human actions rather than naturally occurring forces. In a just-released NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 74 percent endorsed this view, compared to just 20 percent who backed the opposing statement that global warming is traceable primarily to naturally occurring forces rather than human actions.

As for signing international agreements, a just-released Gallup poll found 55 percent to 38 percent support for signing a binding global treaty at Copenhagen on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, in a late November, Associated Press poll done in conjunction with Stanford University, 40 percent of the public thought that doing things to reduce global warming in the future would create more jobs in our country, compared to just 23 percent who thought such action would produce fewer jobs (33 percent thought there would be no effect). Similarly, 46 percent thought action to reduce global warming would help the U.S. economy, compared to 27 percent who thought such action would hurt the economy (24 percent thought there would be no effect).

So the conservative strategy to turn the public away from fighting global warming is failing across the board. That’s bad for them—but great for progressive policy on climate change and, for that matter, the planet.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.