Although contested by many climate deniers, 97% of the world’s scientists have determined that climate change is real and humans are primarily responsible. That number was first published by John Cook in 2013, and consistently referenced since then. The consensus, however, grew to 99.9% recently when, in October, 2021, a new survey of 88,125 climate- related studies was published by Cornell.
What scientists believe and what regular Americans believe, however, continues to differ.
Politics began to play a role early on. In November, 2009, a Washington Post poll revealed that the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening dipped from 80% to 72%. In that article, reporter Juliet Eilperin explained, “The increase in climate skepticism is driven largely by a shift within the GOP. Since its peak 3 1/2 years ago, belief that climate change is happening is down sharply among Republicans -- 76 to 54 percent -- and independents -- 86 to 71 percent. It dipped more modestly among Democrats, from 92 to 86 percent. A majority of respondents still support legislation to cap emissions and trade pollution allowances, by 53 to 42 percent.” By February 2022, with polling still at 72%, Yale published a detailed and highly interactive Climate Opinion Map detailing how climate change beliefs vary across the country. Another poll, in May 2022, reported that only 40% of registered voters consider climate change to be “a very important issue “ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Of those, “6 in 10 registered Democrats say the climate crisis will be a very important factor when they decide who to vote for in November. By contrast, global warming is near or at the bottom of congressional voting priorities among Republicans,” says the study.
Unfortunately, billions of dollars have been poured into misinformation campaigns to inhibit climate change progress and America remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels with record profits being posted in the summer of 2022 by Exxon and other major fossil fuel corporations. The prominence of denialism in our national conversation about climate change is a product of these campaigns and continues to stall progress. CCR has created a page focused on GREENWASHING.
What is the first thing we need to do to address climate change? Simple: we need to understand it, accept the science, and act. This section provides news and resources to help you understand, accept, and communicate with people who are still skeptical about the reality of climate change. You might want to start with a 2019 video from Climate Crocks.
Accurate information is the foundation of a functioning democracy. A website called Climate Feedback is a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in climate change media coverage. It is highly recommended if you find yourself unclear about something you have read in this time of so much misinformation.
There is also:
• an awesome history answering the questions of “What did we know and when did we know it?” found at NASA.
• a good quiz from the Washington Post.
• a game developed by scientist John Cook called crankyuncle, using cartoons and critical thinking to fight misinformation used by climate change deniers. (Also available as a Teacher’s Guide)