“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.”
A new study from the Brookings Institute has revealed some interesting—and encouraging—findings. More people are becoming convinced that global warming is real. That doesn’t necessarily translate that they believe human activities have anything to do with it. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Participants in the survey were asked the following question: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades?” Sixty-five percent answered yes, a climb of a few percentage points compared with the same time last year. In fact, back in the Fall of 2008, the number who were convinced was higher at 72 percent but steadily to a low of 52 percent in the Spring of 2010.
There’s been a steady rise since, suggesting that there’s been a rebound in the number of people believing the evidence. This is likely due in part to the recent record-breaking temperatures seen all over the continental US. It’s amazing how when it’s in your face, it’s hard to deny.
One interesting finding is how people’s beliefs continue to follow party lines. For example, the number of Democrats convinced of global warming has increased from 73 to 81 percent in the past year, while Republicans have remained steady at 42 percent. (See my blog on cultural cognition to understand more about why that is, even though the facts and science shouldn’t be so easily influenced by political views.)
What is most encouraging from the survey is that the percentage of Independents believing in global warming has increased—from 52 to 72 percent this past year. This is especially heartening because the Independent group is least likely to be influenced by cultural cognition and most likely to be open-minded with respect to the information it is exposed to.
This suggests that those of us trying to educate the public on the facts surrounding global warming and climate change are doing our jobs at least somewhat effectively. Also that global warming is so evident now to people who are able to remember back just a few decades ago that most of them have a tough time denying its existence.
Hopefully the next step will soon follow: convincing people that the activities of our species such as combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture are playing a part in the problem.
And then it’s on to convincing society that we need to do something about it. It’s a long road ahead….