Climate change, Copenhagen, and U.S. public opinion

As delegates from about 192 nations gather in Copenhagen to take action to mitigate or reverse global warming, only about half of the U.S. believes that climate change is happening. The Copenhagen conference, nicknamed COP15, runs December 7-18. The official website offers numerous articles, and links to live webcasts of proceedings, both in the original language and in English.

An NPR story explains two reasons for decreasing U.S. citiizen concern. First:

Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale University School of Forestry puts one reason above all the rest: “First of all, it’s the economy, stupid.”People can only worry about so many issues at one time, he says. So it’s no surprise they worry about issues that hit closest to home.

Then there’s the psychological reason:

Even as scientists become more confident that climate change is a serious hazard, public opinion is shifting the other way, says Kari Marie Norgaard at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. …
[As] as people start to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, they simply turn away from the topic. It’s a form of denial, she says.”We just don’t want to know about it, so we are actively distancing ourselves from it or trying to protect ourselves from it.”

Finally, “There’s a large and well-funded effort to block legislation that could hurt the industries most responsible for carbon emissions.”

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One response to “Climate change, Copenhagen, and U.S. public opinion

  1. Pingback: Climate Change — from Minnesota to Copenhagen — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul

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