[Via Daring Fireball]
Americans — of all political stripes — are grossly misinformed about the percentage of climate scientists who think global warming is happening. Sad.[More]
The largest fraction do not know enough to say. At east they admit their ignorance.
And 14% do get the right answer – essentially 100% of climate scientists think the world is warming. Maybe only 98% think that humans are involved. ( the poll described global warming as simply the idea that the average global temperature has increased over the last 150 years.)
Yet 60% of Americans are wrong. Maybe there is a little comfort that Democrats are twice as likely to get the right answer as Republicans and twenty times as likely that Tea Party members. No group got this correct.
On such an important topic, how can so many Americans be so ignorant? I think we can point to the atrocious job the media does with this topic. They do not want to reduce the ignorance in any fashion. As you’ll see below, all groups actually distrust the media to a very high degree. Perhaps they know who poorly they are all being served by the media.
The majority of Americans acknowledge global warming. They at least are not ignorant here (although a Republican is almost 3 times more likely to not acknowledge global warming and a Tea Partier over 6 times).
Interestingly, the more ignorant a group was about global warming, the surer it was that it was well-informed – a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.
Americans just do not have any idea of how the experts feel. In fact, equal numbers (41%) of Americans respond affirmatively to these questions: “Most scientists think global warming is happening” and “There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening.”
Again, only the first case it true. Yet the majority of Americans get this wrong (45% of Democrats but 71% of Republicans).
In other parts of the poll, 45% of the Democrats feel that we are being harmed right now (16% of the Republicans) while 33% of the Republicans feel we will never be harmed (51% of the Tea Partiers).
The one question most Americans would like to ask an expert is “How do you know that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, not natural changes in the environment?” (Here is an easy answer. Essentialyl, the CO2 levels are rising. We can tell that the CO2 being added to the atmosphere comes from the burning of fossil fuel and not from natural processes. We can see that the added CO2 in the atmosphere is holding in more heat. The ways that this heat is being retained rule out other major causes.)
Nicely, everyone wants more research done into renewable energy sources. Complete bipartisanship here. And every pretty much opposes raising the gas tax 25 cents and using the money to reduce the income tax.
The other interesting aspect is that the Tea Partiers simply do not trust much of anything: 56% distrust TV weathermen, 91% distrust the mainstream news media, 48% distrust scientists, 95% distrust President Obama, 84% distrust their own Representative, 72% distrust the EPA, 73% distrust the Department of Energy and 62% distrust the CDC,
The comparable distrust numbers for Democrats are 36% weathermen, 46% media, 12% scientists, 19% President Obama, 47% Representative, 20% EPA, 26% DOE and 30% CDC.
And, not surprisingly, while even a majority of Republicans acknowledge evolution (51% for them vs. 62% for Democrats), 66% of the Tea Partiers do not acknowledge evolution.
Now the basic numbers. People were asked to self assign themselves into parties. If anyone self identified themselves as members of the Tea Party, their answers were excluded from the Republican, Independent or Democrat bins. The size of the polling means that the 95 percent confidence level is ± 3%. But the smaller size of the subgroups increases their errors, with the Tea Party numbers being larges (±10%).
Somewhat high but it is possible to get statistically significant numbers since they have views so at odds with the Democrats.