Year 3, Month 7, Day 25: “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” (H.L. Mencken)

The Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot reports on a new poll that offers a sort of good news:

A majority of Americans say they think climate change is real, according to a new poll on Friday.

Six in ten believe weather patterns around the world have been more unstable in the last three years, The Washington Post/Stanford University poll found, and almost as many people said it has been hotter on average in that time than ever period. And as for what the two presidential candidates want to do about climate change, almost half of those polled say that President Barack Obama wants to take a lot of government action on global warming, while just 11 percent say they feel that’s a goal of Mitt Romney.

Just over half, or 55 percent, told pollsters they think a “great deal” or “good amount” can be done to combat future global warming, but 60 percent disagree.

Seven in ten Americans say they are not in favor of tax increases on electricity or gas, and 66 percent want tax breaks to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the Post reported. But 20 percent say they would like the government to not be involved at all with regulating greenhouse gases.

Just one problem….Sent July 14:

The laws of chemistry and physics were operating long before human beings began understanding them; indeed, they were operating long before there were human beings at all. Those same laws govern the greenhouse effect which now poses a significant threat to our species and the civilization we’ve developed over our countless millennia on Earth.

From a scientific perspective, it’s irrelevant that more people “believe” in climate change; whether we accept the data or not, it’s happening. From a political perspective, it’s irrelevant that the scientific consensus on climate change is overwhelming; what matters is what people believe to be true.

American energy and environmental policies must be firmly founded on measurable scientific reality, not blown this way and that by the endlessly changing winds of public opinion. The climate crisis is real, and humanity’s future hinges on whether our politicians can recognize that the emergency isn’t affected by electoral exigencies.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 3, Day 6: Still I Look To Find A Reason…

According to a number of news reports, more Americans have stopped whacking the snooze button, as witness this, from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The percentage of Americans who believe in global warming has rebounded to the highest level since the fall of 2009, according to a University of Michigan survey released Tuesday.

When the initial poll was done in the 2008, 72 percent of Americans said they believed there was solid evidence that average temperatures on Earth have been getting warmer over the past four decades.

The number fell to 65 percent in the fall of 2009 and tumbled to 58 percent a year later. But the most recent survey shows that in the fall of 2011, the number of climate-change believers rebounded to 62 percent.

A day earlier, the San Diego Regional Climate Education Partnership issued its own countywide survey on the same topic. It showed that the majority of San Diegans believe that:

• Gasoline engines and electricity generation emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (68 percent).

• Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a major cause of increased temperatures (54 percent).

• Worldwide annual temperatures between 1990 and 2010 have been the warmest in recorded history (55 percent).

The highest degree of specific concern (71 percent) was expressed for “future generations,” followed by “children” (69 percent) and “humanity” in general (65 percent) — what survey sponsors said indicated a strong connection between climate change impacts and people.

Good. I was getting bored with bashing Heartland Institute. Sent February 29:

Scientifically literate citizens are delighted to hear that more Americans are beginning to accept the ominous reality of global climate change. After all, you can’t fix a problem until you recognize that it exists. So a survey showing that almost two-thirds of Americans “believe in global warming” is good news — of a sort.

But before we break out the champagne, we should recognize that the greenhouse effect isn’t a philosophy, a theology, a credo, or a moral code; it’s as real as gravity — confirmed by experiment, observation and measurement — not something we can choose to “believe in” or not, but a fact. Extra CO2 in our atmosphere causes the greenhouse effect, which causes global warming, which in turn causes climate change. When politicians, pundits, and pollsters claim that science, like religion, is a matter of “belief,” it’s no surprise that public discussion of climate change has been so muddled and confused.

Warren Senders