According to a recent Pew poll, 67% of Americans say there is solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. There is some slight dispute over the cause for this with 42% say the warming is mostly caused by human activity versus 19% who believe it is mostly due to by natural causes. In terms of threat, Americans do consider global warming to be a problem with 64% of Americans say it is very serious (39%) or somewhat serious (25).
With increasing interest in the upcoming US elections, Pew also looked the difference in views amongst Democrats, Republicans, and independents. A whopping 85% of Democrats surveyed say there is solid evidence that the average temperature has been getting warmer (a rise from last year’s 77%) and 65% of independents believe the same.
However, only 48% of Republicans say there is solid evidence of warming. Though breaking it down further, most moderate and liberal Republicans (58%) say there is solid evidence of warming.
Is global warming considered a problem for party members?
While most of the US agrees that global warming is becoming a serious problem, over half of Democrats (56%) say that it is very serious while just 19% of Republicans agree with this statement. Independents fit in the middle with about 39%.
How does global warming work its way into the vote?
The divide is significant when broken down into Obama vs. Romney supporters. 88% of Obama supporters believe there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been increasing. By contrast, only 42% of Mitt Romney supporters say there is solid evidence of warming and an even lower number (18%) believe it is due to human activity.
Candidates and Climate Change
The candidates have had a murky history in regard to the climate change issue. Although Obama did state that climate change is "not a hoax" and more recently commented on climate change's contribution to hurricane Sandy, many believe he's not following through on combating the problem. On Romney's end, part of his five point plan does include nuclear and renewables but it also aims to take full advantage of "oil and coal and gas" resources. And his running mate's views on climate change aren't particularly kind.
There's been little talk of the environment during the recent debates and it's the first time that climate change hasn't been addressed since about 1984. The presidential candidates continually sidestep the issue and generally steer clear of the topic of climate change. And while the second debate between Obama and Romney did dedicate a bit of time to energy, it mainly focused on building up the areas of coal and oil - two fossil fuel sources which are widely believed to contribute to global warming.
So why is talk on this topic so scarce? Although Pew has indeed found that voters are indeed concerned about the environment, the economic situation and job climate continue to trump all other concerns. As this is the driving issue for this election, climate change and alternative energies stand little chance of being addressed by candidates who seek to speak to the American public (and some members are even adamantly against the "fantasies" of green energy). It might be some time before the environment and energy gain notice in the White House.