Americans are less eager to see government do something about global warming, a new poll finds. Support for government action on climate change has dropped the past two years, according to the survey by Stanford researchers and Ipsos Public Affairs.
In 2010, more than 75 percent of respondents expressed support for mandating more efficient and less polluting cars, appliances, homes, offices and power plants. Nearly 90 percent of respondents favored federal tax breaks to spur companies to produce more electricity from water, wind and solar energy. Support for government action overall was at 72 percent in 2012 and dropped to 62 percent this year.
The researchers think political rhetoric and cooler-than-average weather may have influenced the shift, but economics doesn't appear to have played a role, they say.
The drop was concentrated among Americans who distrust climate scientists, even more so among such people who identify themselves as Republicans. Americans who do not trust climate science were especially aware of and influenced by recent shifts in world temperature, and 2011 was tied for the coolest of the last 11 years.
Scientist say a year of cooling does not a trend make, and the overall evidence for long-term global warming is solid.
Jon Krosnick, who led the work, pointed out that during the recent campaign, all but one Republican presidential candidate expressed doubt about global warming, and some urged no government action to address the issue. Rick Santorum described belief in climate change as a "pseudo-religion," while Ron Paul called it a "hoax." Mitt Romney, the apparent Republican nominee, has said, "I can tell you the right course for America with regard to energy policy is to focus on job creation and not global warming."
The Stanford-Ipsos study found no evidence that the decline in public support for government action was concentrated among respondents who lived in states struggling the most economically.
The study found that, overall, the majority of Americans continue to support many specific government actions to mitigate global warming's effect. However, most Americans remain opposed to consumer taxes intended to decrease public use of electricity and gasoline.