Dr. Jon Krosnick: Climate Change is Still an Important Public Issue

Dr. Jon Krosnick claimed that the American public is concerned about global warming during his lecture, “What the Public Thinks About Climate Change: Evidence from More Than a Decade of National Surveys,” at Boston University’s Kenmore Classroom Building on Tuesday night. Krosnick counteracted recent doubt in the public’s opinion of importance of climate change with multiple surveys and statistics that show the public is still concerned.

Krosnick conducted a series of telephone surveys between 1997 and 2010 on a representative sample of American adults consisting of “unbiased, balanced questions.” The results showed that concern about global warming spiked in 2007, but about 80 percent of the public believe it exists. This research refutes multiple headlines that reported a “free-fall”
in belief of climate change.

“I think it would be a mistake to say people are not focused on this problem,” Krosnick said.

His statistics show that 62 percent of people wanted the federal government to take action against climate change in 2010, as opposed to 49 percent in 1997. He also found that between 1997 and 2010 between 40 and 50 percent of people were “extremely sure” that climate change was taking place.

But since 2008, there has been a slight decline in belief of global warming. Krosnick said people recognized the cool temperatures in 2008 as proof that global warming was not actually happening, but scientists still supported the theory. Also, people began to distrust scientists due to multiple large-scale errors in the scientific community such as “emailgate” or the IPCC report mistakes. This distrust and the temperatures in 2008 were most likely the cause of the decline.

Krosnick also thinks that candidate support of green energy will have a big play in the 2012 elections. His research showed that more candidates that supported green energy in the 2010 congressional elections got into office for both parties than those who did not, or remained silent.

“The climate change issue public issue public is a strange one,” Krosnick said about the portion of the public who is passionate about climate change, whether they support it or reject it.

He claimed that 90 percent of the climate change issue public believes global warming is happening and wants to take action against it. Usually, the issue public on a certain problem is split in support and against it.

“Our survey data would predict that taking a green stand is good,” Krosnick said. “Green gains votes.”