15 March 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

Jon Krosnick of Stanford University argues that the recent issues in climate science have done very little to alter public opinion in the United States on climate change. Watch Krosnick above and read the report here. Here is the opening to the media release.

Despite recent news reports questioning the credibility of climate science, the vast majority of Americans continue to trust the scientists who say that global warming is real, according to a new Stanford University study.

"In recent months, we have seen a spate of news stories suggesting that the American public is cooling on global warming - that fewer people now believe that the planet has been heating up than they did a year ago," said Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication and of political science at Stanford. "But our work shows that the percentage of Americans who believe in the existence of global warming has only dipped 5 points, from 80 percent in 2008 to 75 percent in 2009, and that public confidence in climate scientists has remained constant over the last few years."

Those wanting to continue to argue politics through science will find Krosnick's analysis unwelcome. However, the fact of the matter is that the battle over public opinion on climate change has long been won by those arguing for a human influence and a need for action. Those still battling over the science should consider the wisdom of Walter Lippmann, who argued that the role of politics in a democracy is not to get people to think alike, but to get people who think differently to act alike.