Concern Over Global Warming Cools

  • Date: 15/12/09

Ad Week: Even as this month’s Copenhagen conference generates front-page headlines, polls show Americans’ concern about global warming is tepid. If marketers wish to tap into consumers’ green sentiment — of which there is plenty — survey data and some expert opinion give reason to think a focus on global warming will be a tough way to do it.

 Many a tree has been felled lately to print findings of opinion surveys in which people increasingly shrug off global warming as a major concern, or express doubt that it’s happening at all. In an Ipsos/McClatchy poll released last week (and fielded earlier this month), 70 percent of respondents agreed that the world’s temperatures “have been going up slowly over the past 100 years.” But just 43 percent said they think the earth has been warming “mostly because of human activity.”

And the Ipsos/McClatchy poll is scarcely an outlier in its findings. In a Harris Poll last month, a bare majority of respondents (51 percent) said they “believe the theory that increased carbon dioxide and other gases released into the atmosphere will, if unchecked, lead to global warming,” down from 75 percent in 2001.

That’s in sync with the findings of Pew Research Center polling over the years. In surveys in 2006 and 2007, 77 percent of respondents agreed that there is “solid evidence the earth is warming.” By this October, the number holding that view had fallen to 57 percent.

So, where does global warming now stand on the hierarchy of Americans’ worries? In a Bloomberg poll this month, a grand total of 3 percent of respondents picked “climate change” as “the most important issue facing the country right now.”

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