Americans believed in global warming/climate change. Then they didn't. But now they do again.
Mother Nature has been given the doubters, predominantly from the south and central states, extra lessons in subjects such as extended drought, massive floods and severe storm events of increasing frequency and intensity. Now all that extra tutoring is paying off. As Bill McKibbon, writing in Tom Dispatch, notes, the kids finally are beginning to understand the math.
"New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they’re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization, and their own lives. After a year with a record number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters, seven in ten Americans now believe that “global warming is affecting the weather.” No less striking, 35% of the respondents reported that extreme weather had affected them personally in 2011. As Yale’s Anthony Laiserowitz told the New York Times, “People are starting to connect the dots.”
That the American people are coming around really is no surprise. They were going to get there, eventually. The professional denialists did their Alchemist's dance pretty effectively over the past few years but all they could ever do was sow doubt, not solve problems. And, as the climate change threats remained and grew and worsened, the fact that the denialists were empty-handed and not even proposing any effective solutions became apparent.
But growing public awareness won't lead to effective action of itself. Corporatism now competes with democracy within the halls of America's governments. And, yes, money talks. The corporatists don't have to defeat science. They know they can't. They're not even trying. Instead, their focus is on engaging the willing, particularly those in elected office, to delay and water down climate change actions that will negatively impact corporate ledgers. Even if they can't win 100% or even 60% of the argument, whatever they win is found money. It's free, found money; unearned profit. That's incentive enough to keep their denialism medicine show on the road unless and until they're stopped.
So does that mean it will be another 5 years before the people in Canada start to believe? We typically act about 5 years behind... That should give Harper plenty of time to really mess things up.
Despite the considerable efforts of the Harper government to suppress it, public acceptance of global warming has been higher here than south of the line.
The current shift in the U.S. is quite fascinating, if it's real and lasting which remains to be seen. It's said that social conservatism generally is beginning to get a rough ride although its ties to fundamentalism are pretty powerful.
Yet the denialists and their companions, the radical right, the social conservatives and the religious fundamentalists share the same problem. For years they've been telling their adherents that global warming is a hoax, that there is no problem, that God won't let true believers get it up the backside. Sort of like saying "the stove only looks hot but it won't hurt you if you touch it."
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