Gallup: Most Americans Don’t See Global Warming as Urgent Issue

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By: E&P Staff

With warnings about global warming reaching a fever pitch in recent weeks–Vanity Fair is about to come out with a special section featuring George Clooney and Julia Roberts on its cover–most Americans are convinced that the Earth is being affected, but they have still not grown urgently concerned about it, according to a Gallup poll released today.

Only one in three predict global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes.

Contrary to what one might expect, Gallup found that while public concern is higher than in 2004, it is “no higher than it has been at several points in the past.” In fact, Americans are more worried about water pollution, air pollution, and toxic waste than global warming.

This comes despite the fact that a record number of Americans, 58%, believe a climate change as a result of global warming has already begun, and is the result of man-made operations, not natural cycles.

Gallup found that only 36% of Americans say they worry a great deal about “the greenhouse effect” or global warming. The percentage saying global warming will “pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime” is now 35%, just two points above that recorded in 2002.

“Since 1999, Republicans’ level of worry about the issue has dipped noticeably,” Gallup reports, “while worry among Democrats has shown less change.”

And Gallup observes: “Despite the increased concern about global warming this year, the issue still has a low ranking relative to other environmental problems, many of which also rose as public concerns since 2004. Since Gallup started measuring public concern about global warming in 1989, the issue has always placed near the bottom of a list of 10 environmental issues rated. Water pollution and toxic waste contamination lead the list this year, with more than 50% of Americans highly concerned about these. Air pollution and loss of tropical rain forests also rank higher than global warming. Acid rain ranks lower.”

These results are based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,000 adults, conducted March 13-16, 2006.

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