As Iowans prepare to vote for presidential candidates, a new poll has surfaced showing once again the vast majority of Americans don’t rank global warming as the most serious issue facing the country.
A YouGov poll of 18,000 people in 17 countries found only 9.2 percent of Americans rank global warming as their biggest concern. Only Saudi Arabians were less concerned about global warming at 5.7 percent. The biggest concern for Americans was global terrorism — 28 percent of Americans polled listed this as their top issue.
Despite a big PR push by President Barack Obama to tout his administration’s global warming agenda, most Americans have been unconvinced it’s the country’s most pressing issue. A Fox News poll from November found only 3 percent of Americans list global warming as their top concern.
The Fox poll came out just before Obama met other world leaders in Paris to kick off another round of negotiations for an international treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions. After weeks of haggling, United Nations delegates agreed to non-binding emissions cuts.
Then, government scientists declared 2015 the warmest year on record. This news only emboldened politicians and environmental activists who want to build public support for more regulations on fossil fuels.
“In Paris, the entire world acted as one by agreeing to a universal climate accord that set an expiration date on fossil fuels–but now we must pick up the pace,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, fossil fuel corporations are doing everything they can to hang on to their profits as long as possible,” Brune said. “Largely as a result, if one of the leading Republican candidates were to be elected President of the United States, they would be the only head of state on earth to oppose global climate action.”
But Brune’s insistence that Republican lawmakers and corporations are responsible for keeping the American public ignorant of the dangers of global warming doesn’t seem to be backed up by the polling data.
Polls have consistently shown global warming never ranks high on the American public’s radar. A CNN poll from January 2015 found that 57 percent of Americans did not expect global warming to threaten their way of life.
“Meanwhile, only 50 percent of Americans believe global warming is caused by man-made emissions, while 23 percent say it’s caused by natural changes and 26 percent say it isn’t a proven fact,” CNN reported.A Gallup poll from March 2015 found Americans’ concern about global warming fell to the same level it was in 1989. Global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns— only 32 percent said they worried about it a “great deal.”
“Importantly, even as global warming has received greater attention as an environmental problem from politicians and the media in recent years, Americans’ worry about it is no higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1989,” Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones wrote.