Trump Attacks on Science Swing U.S. Public Opinion Toward Climate Concern
Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on climate science and policy are pushing Americans in precisely the direction he disdains—toward a wider acknowledgement that climate change is happening, caused by human activity, and a present-day reality that is already cause for immediate concern.
That’s the conclusion Italian physical chemistry professor and resource depletion specialist Ugo Bardi draws from a review of recent polling data.
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“Trump’s presidency is generating a backfire in beliefs on climate change,” Bardi writes. The White House’s “heavy hand in punishing climate science and climate scientists is correctly perceived by the public as ideologically-minded and dangerous—and many Americans don’t like it. Scientists are seen as the victims of a political persecution, and that is causing an increase of trust in science.”
Between 2015 and 2017, Bardi notes, the proportion of Americans who acknowledge that climate change is caused by human activity has increased from 55 to 68%, while the percentage who attribute it to natural change in the environment has fallen from 41 to 29%.
The percentage who recognize the scientific consensus on climate change is up from 62% in 2015 and 65% in 2016 to 71% today.
62% believe the effects of global warming have already begun, up from 55% in 2015 and 59% in 2016.
And 45% say they “worry a great deal” about global warming, compared to 32% in 2015 and 37% last year.
“The situation may evolve even more in favour of climate science as Donald Trump becomes less and less popular,” Bardi writes. “A significant fraction of Americans are still trusting him, but that trust may soon wear out as Trump’s policies fail.”
He adds that “the decline and fall of Donald Trump could generate a long-lasting bad reputation for climate science denial,” though public opinion is “volatile”—and even a few years of climate inaction can do decisive damage. (h/t to Fred Huette for pointing us to this story)