Views of Americans on the existence of global warming 2008-2010

Christopher P. Borick
Erick Lachapelle
Barry G. Rabe
Issues in Governance Studies, Number 39
The Brookings Institution
April 2011

"For much of the last decade public opinion polls have shown that Americans have increasingly acknowledged the existence of climate change. This growth in belief was particularly pronounced between 2007 and 2008 when numerous polls converged in showing that Americans were more likely than ever before to express belief in global warming. But this trend shifted markedly in more recent years. Numerous surveys, including those of the NSAPOCC, have shown a declining percentage of Americans expressing belief that temperatures on Earth have been increasing (see Table 1). In this study we find a slight rebound in levels of belief among U.S. residents with belief levels increasing from 52 percent to 58 percent between March and December 2010."

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A resource for quotes on the politicization of global warming and climate change.

Commentary or Blog Post

Global warming is a divisive issue. People are either believers or skeptics, with each side viewing the other with apprehension.

"Late for a party? Miss a meeting? Forget to pay your rent? Blame climate change; everyone else is doing it. From an increase in severe acne to all societal collapses since the beginning of time, just about everything gone wrong in the world today can be attributed to climate change. Here’s a list of 100 storylines blaming climate change as the problem."

Climate change has long been a political issue for the Democratic party politician Al Gore. Some political opponents, like Marc Sheppard, have accused him of using the issue as a means to advance his political ambitions.

We can only hope that world leaders will do nothing more than enjoy a pleasant bicycle ride around the charming streets of Copenhagen come December. For if they actually manage to wring out an agreement based on the current draft text of the Copenhagen climate-change treaty, the world is in for some nasty surprises. Draft text, you say? If you haven't heard about it, that's because none of our otherwise talkative political leaders have bothered to tell us what the drafters have already cobbled together for leaders to consider. And neither have the media.

"Few people understand the real significance of Climategate, the now-famous hacking of emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Most see the contents as demonstrating some arbitrary manipulating of various climate data sources in order to fit preconceived hypotheses (true), or as stonewalling and requesting colleagues to destroy emails to the United Nations...

The Guardian's Leo Hickman interviews James Lovelock, an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurologist. Lovelock discusses the value of skeptical scientists and the politicization of science at the 2009 UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

GE is betting on climate change legislation, high-speed rail funding, electric car subsidies, embryonic stem cell grants, expanded federal health care spending, subsidies for renewable energy, defense contracts and continued financial bailouts.

The IPCC encouraged deeply disturbing departures from sound scientific research that significantly undermine Live Earth's alarmist message. Yet, the problems with the IPCC report go much further than politicized science.

"Two professors of sociology think they can explain why 'Climate Deniers' are winning. But Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright start from the wrong assumption and miss the bleeding obvious: the theory was wrong, the evidence has changed, and thousands of volunteers have exposed it.

The real question sociologists will be studying for years to come is: how was an exaggerated...

"When Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announced a half-billion dollars in federal stimulus loans to solar panel maker Solyndra, he called the move part of an aggressive effort to put more Americans to work and end U.S. dependence on foreign oil. But nearly two years to the day later, the bankrupt Solyndra needs help just to keep it own electricity service from being shut off."

"President Obama and his congressional allies’ domestic climate change agenda—'cap and trade'—failed in the last Congress due to extensive opposition to its costly regulations and barriers to growth. Having failed to enact draconian climate change legislation domestically, however, President Obama has quietly shifted some of these efforts overseas by funneling millions of U.S. foreign aid dollars to left-wing causes in poor countries, whose populations largely live on less than $1 a day."

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.

It’s the very scariest claims — rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers threatening a billion people with flooding and then with drought, an increase in Katrina-scale disasters, and others – that are the ones on the shakiest ground.

Richman explores his thoughts on the chapter and says what he thinks about the issues of the politicization of science.

To help out, I’ve whipped up some commonly asked questions and their answers (below) on global warming to help you better understand the issues involved. As you will see, the science of global warming is far from ‘settled’. It is only because of the political and financial ramifications of global warming that so many people (mainly politicians and those who have vested interests) are trying to convince you otherwise.

This piece describes how evidence for global warming has eroded over the years. Booker then discusses the BBC's lack of reporting on the issue, declaring their bias a near "scandal."

Wholesale acceptance of human-caused global warming does not, in fact, exist. Indeed, many scientists believe that the highly politicized global warming scare is one of the greatest scams inflicted on the planet.

"The European Union—or at least its feisty climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard—seems determined to take on the whole world by demanding that all airlines pay a carbon tribute for the privilege of crossing EU airspace and landing at EU airports. The tax, which will start being collected in 2013, would be levied not just on the miles flown over EU territory but for the entire length of the...

The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations.

Politically active climate scientists and their allies seek to shut down a useful discussion with intimidation, bluster, and name-calling. It is a function of the destructive politics of science in the global warming debate.

The conflation of political agendas with science is destroying the credibility of academia, with the complicity of the editors of our major scientific journals.

In referring to the theology of global warming, one is not focusing on evidence of the earth's warming in recent decades but rather on the widespread insistence that such warming is primarily a consequence of man.

"First, nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so. Such claims also serve to intimidate the public and even scientists -- especially those outside the area of climate dynamics."

Chart or Graph

Two Canadian non-climate scientists, McKitrick and McIntyre, re-did the study using Mann's data and methods, and found dozens of errors, including two data series with exactly the same data for a number of years.

On the three networks, 80 percent of stories didn't mention skepticism or anyone at all who dissented from global warming alarmism.

Skeptical voices were suppressed by the networks, outnumbered by nearly a 7-to-1 ratio by those promoting fear of climate change or being used by the network for the same purpose.

The money and vested interests on the pro-scare side is vastly larger, more influential, and more powerful than that on the skeptical side. Fossil fuel and conservative-think-tanks are competing against most of the world financial houses, the nuclear and renewable energy industry, etc.

"For much of the last decade public opinion polls have shown that Americans have increasingly acknowledged the existence of climate change."

Analysis Report White Paper

"The purpose of this primer is to help the reader determine whether our understanding of the Earth’s climate is adequate to predict the long term effects of carbon dioxide released as a result of the continued burning of fossil fuels."

The Review’s unambiguous conclusions about the need for extreme immediate action will not survive the substitution of assumptions that are consistent with today’s marketplace real interest rates and savings rates.

Admittedly, the contest over global warming is a challenge for the referee because it's a tag-team match, a real free-for-all. In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.

The Committee found that the IPCC assessment process has been successful overall. However, the world has changed considerably since the creation of the IPCC, with major advances in climate science, heated controversy on some climate-related issues, and an increased focus of governments on the impacts and potential responses to changing climate.

"This collection of eight articles and reports on Al Gore’s film, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' .... includes the complete text of Justice Michael Burton’s October 2, 2007 British High Court decision, which found Gore’s film was “partisan” and “propaganda” and should not be shown to students without a guidance document pointing out Gore’s mistakes and exaggerations."

"This 880-page rebuttal of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)....provides an independent examination of the evidence available on the causes and consequences of climate change in the published, peer-reviewed literature examined without bias and selectivity."

The following report summarizes results drawn from national level surveys in the United States and Canada that examine public perceptions regarding various aspects of climate change.

The field of climate research has become highly politicized. The politicization of science is a threat to the process of free inquiry necessary for human progress.

The coincidence of increasing CO2 and the small warming over the past century hardly establishes causality.

"This paper aims to describe the evolution of US greenhouse gas emissions and of US domestic climate policy to date, in particular the essentials of the current leading legislative initiative – the Lieberman-Warner 'Climate Security Act' – and discuss some issues of the policy design."

"In an assessment on Global Water Security, U.S. Intelligence Community predicts that exploding populations in developing countries coupled with climate change would be naturally transformed into drought, floods and lack of fresh water."

By tying themselves to politics, rather than policy, scientists necessarily restrict their value and the value of their science.


In this podcast, Patrick J. Michaels discusses the 2009 G20 summit and the worldwide struggle over climate change and emission issues.

"We typically think of climate change as the biggest environmental issue we face today. But maybe it's not? In this presentation, Jonathan Foley shows how agriculture and land use are maybe a bigger culprit in the global environment, and could grow even larger as we look to feed over 9 billion people in the future."

In this clip, Al Gore ... [compares] skeptics of climate change to racists during the Civil Rights Movement. Gore was sitting down for an interview with Alex Bogusky of the Climate Reality Project, and suggested that young people today whose parents do not believe in climate change are asking the same questions now that race-conscious young people in the 60s asked their parents.

"This video exposes yet another of Obama's radical leftist appointments, EPA head Lisa Jackson. From indoctrination of our youth through the Boy's and Girl's Clubs of America, to fear mongering in a speech to LULAC, to playing the race card in front of BIG (Blacks in Government), Jackson covers all the Environmental Justice bases."

The UN is worried that climate change may aggravate threats to international peace and security.

Professor Michael Zimmerman discusses whether or not scientists have really come to a consensus about human caused climate change and warns of the dangers of the increasing politicization of science.

Richard Lindzen speaks to the second annual International Conference on Climate Change in New York. Lindzen warns that scientists who embrace global warming alarmism are not necessarily good researchers.

Scientist Bruce Ames of the University of California at Berkeley helps show how scientific debates have been politicized by appealing to the fears of an uninformed public

This film by the documentary-maker Martin Durkin presents the arguments of scientists and commentators who don't believe that CO2 produced by human activity is the main cause of climate change.

Controversial Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg explains why it's important to question orthodox opinion -- even the widespread fear of global warming.

"Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis explains the truth about global warming in his film Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies Are More Dangerous Than Global Warming Itself. The movie includes cameos from Heritage’s Ben Lieberman and David Kreuzter and is full of talking points to debunk the common catastrophic global warming stories you always hear."

Primary Document

Popularly known as the Waxman-Markey bill, this document sought "To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy." Highly contentious, the bill failed to pass before the end of the 111th Congress.

It is an honor for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. All of you would not be here unless you, like me, were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, it is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. This much we know.

This bill would require the state board to adopt regulations to require the reporting and verification of statewide greenhouse gas emissions and to monitor and enforce compliance with this program, as specified.

Produced by the English Parliament, this piece of climate change legislation seeks, among other things, "to set a target for the year 2050 for the reduction of targeted greenhouse gas emissions; to provide for a system of carbon budgeting; to establish a Committee on Climate Change; [and] to confer powers to establish trading schemes for the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions or encouraging activities that reduce such emissions or remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere...."

It would be foolish to establish national energy policy on the basis of misinformation and irrational hysteria.

The legitimate questions that have been raised about the processes used to generate climate change science and policy have thus far been cast aside. The reluctance to engage in conversations with people who have doubts or question the veracity of climate science is at the heart of the wrong doing that undermines trust in climate change science.

"The key question is: how much warming will there be, and will the warming, and any other effects of the CO2, be good or bad for humanity? I, and many other scientists, think the warming will be small compared [with] the natural fluctuations in the earth’s temperature, and that the warming and increased CO2 will be good for mankind."

Commonly known as the Lieberman-Warner bill, this document sought "To direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes." The bill, however, failed to pass the U.S. House and Senate.

The recommendations that this distinguished organization makes can have a profound effect on the world's environmental and economic policy. By being here today, I hope to underscore my country's and my own personal concern about your work, about environmental stewardship, and to reaffirm our commitment to finding responsible solutions. It's both an honor and a pleasure to be the first American President to speak to this organization, as its work takes shape.

"The issue of climate change respects no border. Its effects cannot be reined in by an army nor advanced by any ideology. Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world."

"The United States provided a total of $31.1 million (in constant 2010 dollars) to IPCC for fiscal years 2001 through 2010, with average annual funding of about $3.1 million. State provided $19 million for administrative and other expenses. USGCRP agencies provided $12.1 million through NSF for a technical support unit that helps develop IPCC reports. GAO identified two key challenges with...

The main activity of the IPCC is to provide at regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is "Climate Change 2007", the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released this statement following the discovery that some of their climate change assessments were based on faulty research. In their original report, the IPCC argued that climate change could melt glaciers in prominent mountainous regions. This statement declares that the report's "conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment."

"The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012."

For centuries Americans have drawn strength and inspiration from the beauty of our country. It would be a neglectful generation indeed, indifferent alike to the judgment of history and the command of principle, which failed to preserve and extend such a heritage for its descendants.

Testimony that compares the benefits of early actions to defuse the building climate crisis with the dangers of continued business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions.

Lindzen addresses the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and says the issue of global warming is one of the more contentious issues in science today.

"By Repowering America with a transition to a clean energy economy and ending our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels, which is the common thread running through all three of these crises, this bill will simultaneously address the climate crisis, the economic crisis, and the national security threats that stem from our dependence on foreign oil."

The aim [of this document] is to give a new as yet unnamed U.N. body the power to directly intervene in the financial, economic, tax and environmental affairs of all the nations that sign the Copenhagen treaty.

This is an issue which has been of great concern to me for a long time. When I decided to seek this office back in 1991, I did it after having spent more than a decade as a Governor deeply frustrated by what seemed to me too often to be inevitable, persistent, aggravating conflicts between the impulse to promote economic opportunity for the people that I represented and the clear obligation, the moral obligation, on all of us to try to preserve this planet that we all share.

"In the following I will provide some general remarks on the shortcomings of the assessment process as I’ve experienced it, then provide three examples of how the process led to inaccurate information provided to policymakers, followed by a comment on temperature records and I will close with some concluding remarks."