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Only 35% of Americans feel that global warming is a serious problem

By Kirsten Firminger

Pew Global Warming Percentages.gifAccording to new polling done by The Pew Research Center, only 35% of Americans feel that global warming is a serious problem, down from 44% of those surveyed in 2008. Only 36% feel that there is solid evidence that the earth is warming because of human activity, down from 47% in 2008.

More than ever, we need to think about the best way to mindfully reach out to individuals to engage them in meaningful dialogue about global warming.


Last week, through, 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. At over 5200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis (check out the photos from  climate change events).

But more can still be done everyday. Grist has put together a great guide on “How to talk to a climate skeptic.” However, keep in mind that some argue that messages based on fear (freaking people out that the world is coming to an end) does not work, and instead we need to focus on how we can engage individuals about climate change on a level that is personally meaningful to them (such as reducing their energy bill or reducing our dependence on foreign oil). Another option is focusing on changing the behaviors on the 36% who do feel that their behaviors cause global warming and this behavior change will spread to others.

What has worked best, in your personal experience, when talking with others about global warming?

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Julia May

posted October 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

I’m more interested in how many people think conservation and ecology is an important issue. Approaching from the negative is not skillful means when it comes to engaging the American people in this issue.
I’m not saying this is not eye-opening – but there are people all over America with problems like illness, inability to pay their rent and feed their families, deaths of loved ones that seem Very Serious and Immediate and not abstract in the way that Global Warming does.
So I think we need to activate habitual action toward conservation and not worry about the gravity of folk’s perception.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 10:19 am

Yes when counties come together to rectify problems you can be well assured that the consumer will end up paying for it in every way possible!
Yes there is climate change happening it has to happen as God has designed it. It has been prophesied, not that it means we shouldn’t do nothing about it, but it is inevitable no matter what we do that the poles melt and the lands dry up their rivers. That the foods of the Earth are diminished by one third etc, etc.
For the Earth must BURN with fire for it to be cleansed. The Book of Mormon has been around since 1823, and the prophecies have all come true just as the Bible prophecies have come true.
Joseph Smith a Prophet of God said, that “the Earth must be renewed and receive it’s paradisaical glory”. How else can it be renewed except it be by fire? Even Oceans will have to dry up for the highways to connect the nations of the Earth, as fuels will not be available, we will revert to horse and foot. So don’t kill the camels in Australia, they may prove to be a great product for the country.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I think criticism of the current story on climate change should be aloud, and taken seriously. Like this example of 31,478 American scientists signing a petition saying that: “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
Why does there seem to be an consensus that the book is closed on the causes of climate change? Could it be possible we are being mislead by our authorities and being exploited? (decreased standards of living, increased carbon taxes, infringements on our personal freedoms)
Even the Buddha said something along the lines of “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
Are we using enough of our common sense or following the crowd?

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Your Name

posted October 29, 2009 at 9:55 am

I feel confident that anyone who is willing to become informed about the controversies (and that can certainly be done here on the internet with about 20 hours iof study- studying all sides) will agree that-
1) the dynamics of climate change is poorly understood which makes modeling and the predictions from modeling a poor guide for policy
2) there have been two periods of warming this century, approximatekly 1930-45 and 1985-1998 periods and, likewise, two periods of cooling approximately 1900-1915 and 1965-1980 and
3) scientists are divided on what role, if any, CO2 plays in climate change; same with the “solar weather” forcing Earth’s climate change hypothesis.
4) despite the predictions of the Gore and IPCC models, the Earth has not become warmer since 1998
5) Competing model predictions, right now, predict both catastrophic global warming, a new ice age , and everything in between. Obviously, there is little consensus on the assumptions because (see #1 above).

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posted October 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

I find it fascinating that people who couldn’t pass a tenth grade science class think they know more than climate scientists who are in massive agreement (a rare scenario among scientists who like to form independent conclusions). Climate change isn’t a prediction. It’s happening now. Try some environmental publications in addition to your religion and your paranoia about government.

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posted October 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

Some of the responses make it clear why people aren’t engaged in the very real issue of climate change: they don’t want to hear what contradicts their desires and don’t want to change their habits.
There is no controversy among real scientists about climate change or the role of CO2. Anyone who thinks we don’t know enough about our climate systems simply doesn’t know how much we know about it or the technologies used to measure present, and perhaps more importantly, past climate and its changes. What we do know about all of the major climate shifts in the past is that CO2 has been involved, along with some type of catastrophe. In this case, the catastrophe is us.
I haven’t had much luck trying to reach people who don’t want to see reality. I’ve been studying climate informally since about 3 years ago, and returned to school almost two years ago to pursue climate science. I’ve read every denialist argument, and they’re all easily debunked by facts. The arguments are full of holes and usually what appear to be blatant, willful distortions of the truth. Most of them are ex-scientists who use their degrees to purport corporate interests and are funded by big oil, big coal and other high-power polluting industries. People believe them because they are vocal and are saying what they want to hear: that everything is fine and scientists are elitist crooks who want to help the government control them. I had one person actually use the term “slaves” in this respect. I do my best by pointing people to what I believe are the best resources:
and hope that people bother to read them.
I study paleoclimate, so I’m at a point where I know such a huge amount about methods, research, researchers and the growing body of knowledge about how earth systems work that it’s hard for me sometimes to get down to laymen basics, and even harder to believe that such a low number of Americans have any trust of science. It’s frustrating, but because I feel a commitment to at least try and leave the world a better place than when I found it, I have to continue in my efforts to educate myself and others.

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Your Name

posted October 29, 2009 at 11:02 am

I think we should cut to the chase, the earth is in peril right now no matter what is causing it. Our law makers say let the air and water polluters continue with their habits, we can’t ask them to clean up their act it would cost too much. Well guess what guy’s if you can’t breath the air or for that matter drink the water (or find water) your dead, and no amount of the almighty dollar can help you with that. Yes people are loosing their homes and their work, but it still comes down to this fact, human life cannot exist without air and water. The sad thing about this is that the human race only responds to something after it starts having an affect on their personal lives, if we can’t see it, touch it, or have a problem with it we tend not to care. Let’s quite pointing fingers about who’s right the people who believe in global warming, or those who don’t.
This is a stall tactic, more time being waisted. Let’s continue to talk while the polar ice caps melt, while rivers dry up and whole countries are threatened with going under the rising oceans. We all need to focus on the bottom line, what the hell are we going to do?

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Kenny Beal

posted October 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

Be prepared. Oh boy, science! Even Global warming is impermanent and any grasping is certain to be fraught with fear. I certainly do not fear global warming as others on this planet wish I would. Ah, the politics of fear… Even through the coldest and warmest times of our planets atmospheric change history, just below the earth has always been habitable. Change is certain. We’ll survive. We adapt, adopt new ways. No worries. God provides. I do not know how all the previous replies relate to Buddha. Perhaps BeliefNet should consider a section dedicated to Science! May our Heart lead our mind to still waters. I pray for your joy. Kenny

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posted October 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

Global Cooling, then Global Warming now it’s called climate change. It used to be correctly called the Weather. It changes, get over it.

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posted October 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Even though there is serious climate change happening now (no matter what the cause), it’s unlikely many people will believe it. Even if we reach out of compassion and explain patiently why climate change is a Big Deal, we have several issues:
* How willing are most people to give up something they have (or think they have) to help address this issue?
* Many people cannot perceive something that is not here, now and perceivable solely through their 5 senses. The harmony of the climate on this planet is not perceptible to these senses.
* Even if we had universal agreement and will to make the change, are all other countries in the world as willing to make personal sacrifices for this change?
Basically, healing this planet’s climate will entail healing the mindset of the people on this planet—they are deeply interconnected.

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posted October 29, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Quote: Kevin
October 29, 2009 11:41 AM
“Global Cooling, then Global Warming now it’s called climate change. It used to be correctly called the Weather. It changes, get over it.”
I ditto that !! I remember the big panic on global cooling, people acually sold homes in north to move south. Now, with little or no solar sun spots we are looking ahead to 20 years of cooling, and what Climatologists / scientist can tell use in what years earth had a ” NORMAL ” temperature in past 2 or 3 thousand years. Are we living in NORMAL earth temperatures RIGHT NOW ?? Why do more and more people and real estate keep building up in coastal city areas that will be flooded by a foot or two of water. They don’t seam to see any disastrous problem in the future do they ?? Will City Administration start relocating people away from flood lands ?? If a warm period comes, we move north grow more food, and if a cold period comes, we move south and grow more food. I think that what animals and man have been doing for ever !

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Julia May

posted October 29, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Lest anyone misunderstand me and I get falsely aligned – I DEFINITELY think that Global Warming is a SERIOUS problem. I was just on a “skillful means” rant.

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posted November 1, 2009 at 10:42 pm

We can teach our children that warming is like using the kitchen with the air conditioner on. It’s still cool in some of the rooms, but in the kitchen where the stove and oven are being used it’s hot. It’s a very simple way of explanining things but sometimes thats what it takes.

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Your Name

posted November 2, 2009 at 4:48 am

if we are centered in goodness, within, all subsequent decisions without will be wise, properly honoring all important concerns.

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