More than one-quarter of Americans are climate change sceptics, according to a new report released by the Public Religion Research Institute. These deniers don’t believe that the planet Earth’s climate is changing, even though 97% of scientists believe it is.
When asked why they don’t believe, the sceptics’ most common response was that they had not noticed a change in the weather around them, and that the weather was actually getting colder where they lived.
“I hunt a lot, and last winter I froze my butt off,” wrote one respondent.
Here is a chart from the report showing this and other reasons that sceptics gave for doubting climate change. The survey is based on telephone interviews conducted among a random sample of 3,022 adults living in the US (see the full report here).
The second most common response was that temperatures are not rising because of human actions, instead they are just fluctuating as part of a larger natural cycle. “I think there are just trends where the temperature goes up and down as part of a natural cycle every couple of hundred years,” said one respondent.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence that humans have contributed to changes in global temperatures. The chart below, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, includes a series of graphs, each presenting two models. The purple stripes show the climate changes we’d expect from only natural events, like solar variations, and the pink stripes show the changes in a model that includes human actions, like burning fossil fuels.
If human actions had no effect on climate, the purple and pink stripes would occupy the same space on each graph. Instead, they’re different in almost every case, meaning human actions have a definite effect on climate change. Most tellingly, the black lines on each graph represent the changes we’ve observed in real life — not just in models — and they match up with the pink stripe in every case.
The third most popular response, with 12% of deniers selecting it, is that there is not enough scientific evidence to back up the claim that the Earth is getting hotter.
“I don’t see any real evidence of that in the news media,” said one participant. “The entire scientific community really appears divided and scattered about the entire issue.”
But in reality, the scientific community agrees. More than 97% of scientists believe in global warming.
A small minority of sceptics (4%) responded that they have alternative theories about global warming. Around 2% said they believe God is in control and 5% believe that data and news reports showing global warming are propaganda.
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