‘Climate Crisis’ Claims Aren’t Moving Public Opinion Much

Climate alarmists—those peddling the delusion that human-caused climate change is destroying the Earth—are becoming increasingly desperate. So are members of the mainstream media, who have jettisoned all pretense of objectivity and the search for the truth about the causes and consequences of climate change. News outlets, bowing to the demands of progressive radical environmentalists, refer not to global warming or climate change but instead to a “climate crisis” or a “climate emergency.”

Global warming and climate change can be objectively measured and assembled into unbiased datasets, though this has not always been done. “Climate crisis” and “climate emergency,” by contrast, are normative phrases with no scientific meaning.  

A funny thing happened on the way to the climate stampede, however. Public opinion surveys show most people still refuse to enter climate emergency mode. Polls show even those people who think there is a climate apocalypse on the way are willing to pay astonishingly little to prevent it. 

Despite a barrage of stories in print, online, on the radio, and on television daily, the number of people who believe humans are primarily responsible for climate change has changed little over time.

For more than a decade, public opinion surveys consistently have shown only a slight majority of those surveyed are “moderately,” “very,” or “extremely” certain humans are causing climate change. For instance, in a 2019 survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted by the respected polling service Rasmussen for the Heartland Institute, 48 percent of those polled said they believed human activities are primarily responsible for climate change. By contrast, 38 percent said they believed “long-term planetary trends” are primarily responsible for climate change, with 14 percent unsure. 

Two years of rabid propagandizing later and a new Rassmussen/Heartland survey finds the number of likely voters who believe climate change is caused primarily by human activity grew by 7 percent. Yet, so did the number of likely voters who believe climate change is primarily caused by long-term planetary trends. Skepticism is growing even as climate crisis mode kicks in.

Another recent survey of 1,000 voters, conducted by MWR Strategies on behalf of the American Energy Alliance, found 13 percent of respondents did not believe global warming was a problem at all, and only 24 percent thought global warming constitutes a “crisis.”

Also remarkably consistent over time is the fact that people are unwilling to spend very much to prevent climate change, even if they think it is a crisis.

In a 2019 Washington Post/Kaiser Family survey, 60 percent of respondents said they believed the world had fewer than 10 years to prevent the worst effects of climate change, with a majority saying the world has two years or fewer to act.

Even so, 71 percent of those surveyed would be “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed to paying a $10 monthly tax on their residential electric bills to fight climate change. Similarly, 74 percent would reject a 25 cents per gallon increase in the gasoline tax to fight climate change. These relatively modest cost increases are far less than what the Biden Administration’s climate change efforts would cost.

A more recent MWR survey produced similar results. While 47 percent of participants said they believed global warming was a “major challenge or problem” (23 percent) or a “crisis” (24 percent), and another 37 percent thought it was either a “moderate” problem (23 percent) or a “small problem” (14 percent)—meaning 84 percent of those surveyed think global warming is a problem to a greater or lesser degree—people are still unwilling to give up their freedom or dollars to fight climate change.

The MWR poll found 80 percent of those surveyed do not believe the federal government should mandate the kinds of cars people can buy. What’s more, 61 percent rejected the idea that government should subsidize electric car purchases. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed—almost triple the number who said climate change was not a problem at all—said they would be unwilling to spend one dollar to “achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.” Another 42 percent said they would be unwilling to spend more than $10 annually to achieve that result.

Addressing global warming directly, 37 percent of those surveyed by MWR said the amount of money they would be willing to spend “each year to address global warming” was zero, and another 44 percent said they would only be willing to spend less than $10 annually on it. The fact that 81 percent of those surveyed would be unwilling to spend even a piddling $10 a year to fight global warming means many of those who say they believe climate change is a major challenge or a crisis are unwilling to put much effort into fighting it.

Despite a big push by the Biden Administration, Democrats and RINOs in Congress, and even some oil companies to adopt a carbon dioxide tax, only 28 percent of those surveyed by MWR support the idea. On the other hand, 62 percent reject it outright.

After years of fearmongering and attempted indoctrination, polls show Americans aren’t really concerned about climate change when the rubber meets the road. This should cause despair among the climate alarmists. Moreover, politicians should take this into account as they shape the nation’s energy policies.


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About H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute, specializing in environmental policy, and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Photo: Getty Images