Decades of Public Opinion: Climate Change Not On The Radar

  • Date: 06/01/20
  • Donna Laframboise, Big Picture News

Climate change has never been important to ordinary Americans living their lives, raising their kids, and paying their bills. Never mind being a contender for first place, it isn’t even on the chart.

Each month, the Gallup polling outfit asks 1,000 random members of the US public to identify “the most important problem facing this country today.”

Two to three answers typically dominate the results, followed by a long list of concerns mentioned by small numbers of people. Over the past two decades significant segments of the population, sometimes clear majorities, have cited either the economy or jobs.

Below is a table of the four top problems, stretching back to 2001.

click to enlarge

While many people considered terrorism or Iraq the major concern prior to 2009, those issues later disappeared. Although immigration was a top concern in 2006 and 2007, it vanished for years, only resurfacing in 2015.

Health care appears on this table seven times. Here’s the percentage of people who identified it as America’s most important problem:

10% (2007)
8% (2008)
15% (2009)
13% (2010)
10% (2014)
10% (2017)
6% (2019)

A few issues can be described as marginal. Americans care about them, but large numbers of people have never regarded them as the nation’s top priority:

* education: 9% (in 2001)

* ethics & morals: 9% (2001)

* gas prices: 10% (2008)

* federal deficit: 10-12% (2011-13)

* race relations: 6-8% (2016-19)

* unifying country: 6% (2018)

What’s missing? Climate change, of course. Not once, in two decades, has that topic been part of this table. Which means it’s a less than marginal concern.

Climate change has never been important to ordinary people living their lives, raising their kids, and paying their bills. Never mind being a contender for first place, it isn’t even on the chart.

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