Archive for the ‘Charts’ Category
According to new Gallup polling released on Friday, views on climate change in the United States have been relatively stable for the past two years. The toplines and trend data can be downloaded here (PDF).
Here’s Gallup’s chart showing the percentage of Americans who understand that recent changes in Earth’s climate have been caused primarily by human activities, compared to the percentage who mistakenly believe the changes have been caused primarily by natural causes:
Here’s the chart showing Americans’ understanding of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change:
Finally, here’s the chart showing a partisan breakdown of the percentage of Americans who believe that news coverage of climate change is exaggerated:
Two things strike me about these findings — both of them good news for those of us who are concerned about this problem.
First, climate change denial seems to have peaked in or around early 2010. This is when the greatest percentage of Americans thought news about climate change was exaggerated, and the lowest percentage attributed climate change to human activities. This timing likely isn’t coincidental, given the massively deceptive “climategate” propaganda campaign that began in November 2009 and continued for several months.
Separately, understanding among climate change appears to be rebounding fastest among independents. Consider the chart above showing the percentage of Americans who think the problem is exaggerated in the news media. Among Republicans, this belief has continued to slowly but steadily climb since 2005, reaching 67% for the past two years. Among Democrats, there was a small spike to 25% in 2010 (coinciding with climategate), but the figure has since returned to 20%. Among independents, there has been a 10% drop since 2010. At 42%, the percentage of independents who incorrectly believe that climate change is exaggerated in the news media is still too high, but the 10% drop is very significant.
Finally, some discouraging news, from separate Gallup polling released on March 21st. While 73% of Republicans acknowledged that the weather has been warmer this winter than in previous winters, just 19% of those who made that acknowledgement attributed the warmer weather to climate change. Republicans were also 11% less likely than Democrats and 7% less likely than independents to admit that we’ve just experienced a particularly warm weather, which provides some insight into the power of climate change denial to skew basic perceptions.
According to a new report from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, negative coverage of Australia’s carbon tax has spiked in the past year:
Some of Australia’s leading newspapers have been so negative in their reporting of the Gillard government’s carbon policy it’s fair to say they’ve campaigned against it rather than covered it according to a new report by Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney.
The first of a two-part analysis of Australian press coverage of climate change, A Sceptical Climate, has found that between February and July this year negative coverage of the carbon policy across 10 major newspapers outweighed positive coverage by 73 per cent to 27 per cent.
Incredibly, the top six newspapers with disproportionately negative coverage of Australia’s climate policy are all owned by Rupert Murdoch:
Last year at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change, compared to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009, according to DailyClimate.org.
The decline was seen across almost all benchmarks measured by the news service: 20 percent fewer reporters covered the issue in 2011 than in 2010, 20 percent fewer outlets published stories, and the most prolific reporters on the climate change beat published 20 percent fewer stories.
Particularly noticeable was the silence from the nation’s editorial boards: In 2009, newspapers published 1,229 editorials on the topic. Last year, they published less than 580 – half as many, according to DailyClimate.org’s archives.
Here’s what the decline in coverage over the past decade-plus looks like:
Each fall, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Agricultural Statistics Service conduct the Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll. This year’s poll (PDF), which surveyed more than 1,200 farmers in Iowa, included several questions on climate change.
First, survey respondents were provided with a list of statements about climate change and asked to say which they most closely identified with. While 73% of respondents acknowledged that climate change is occurring, there was considerable confusion with regard to the cause:
Just 10% of Iowa farmers acknowledge that climate change is occurring and that it is caused primarily by human activities. Of course, it goes without saying that a vast majority of scientists disagree with this assessment. Just last month, a group of 31 scientists from 22 different Iowa colleges and Universities urged political candidates to accept the scientific evidence on the cause of climate change:
“All major scientific societies and the US National Academy of Science have affirmed that the recent rise in greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has contributed to changes in our climate,” the letter continued. “We urge all candidates for public office at national, state, and local levels to acknowledge the overwhelming balance of evidence for the underpinning causes of climate change, to develop appropriate policy responses, and to develop local and statewide strategies to adapt to near-term changes in climate.”
In terms of the impact of climate change on agriculture in Iowa, there is also significant confusion among Iowa farmers, as well as considerable uncertainty. On many questions about the impact of climate change on agriculture, Iowa farmers consider themselves uncertain:
The beliefs of Iowa farmers on this topic are out of step with the data, which indicate that climate change will be devastating to agriculture. Both of these findings indicate that farmers in Iowa could benefit from more outreach and education on the cause of climate change and the impacts on agriculture.
But who do farmers in Iowa trust when it comes to information about climate change? The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll looked at that question as well:
University Extension, the only group trusted on climate change by a majority of Iowa farmers, refers to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program. Some other reputable sources of information on the topic, such as environmental organizations, are trusted very little on the topic.
Overall, the findings of this survey suggest that information and outreach from University Extension could be extremely beneficial in educating Iowa farmers about the causes of climate change and its impacts on agriculture. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening. On the University Extension’s website, in the section about the environment, climate change isn’t even mentioned. On the right side it lists eight environmental issues under the “environment topics” heading — biorenewable fuels, conservation, forestry, manure/odor management, pesticides and herbicides, soil, water resources and quality, and wildlife and natural resources — but fails to mention climate change or global warming at all.
While I’m glad that several questions on climate change were included in this year’s Iowa Rural Life and Farm Poll, I’m disappointed that one of the one of the sponsoring organizations, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, doesn’t seem to be doing much outreach on the topic, especially given the poll’s findings. Perhaps the findings of this year’s poll, which show considerable confusion among Iowa farmers on the topic, will inspire the Extension and Outreach program at Iowa State University to put more resources and efforts into educating Iowa farmers on both the cause of climate change and the local impacts on agriculture.
Via Greg Hanscomb at Grist, the car-sharing company Zipcar has released a survey on Americans’ driving habits. They surveyed 1,045 U.S. adults, breaking the results down by age group. Here’s the most interesting finding:
The percentage of respondents who said they intentionally drive less in order to protect the environment grew in all age demographics between 2010 and 2011, with the biggest increase in the 35-44 group.
It’s also worth noting that the youngest age demographic — 18-34 — is the most likely to drive less in order to protect the environment.