How Worried Are People About Climate Change?

I was on the phone with my editor yesterday and we happened to get on the topic of public opinion about climate change. I thought that concern about climate change had peaked around 2006-08 after Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth tour, while she thought it was peaking now. Gallup has a series of questions about climate change that they’ve polled for the past couple of decades, so I headed over there. Here’s what they show:

It turns out we were both right. Concern about climate change did peak after Al Gore’s tour and then slumped during the Great Recession. But it began picking up again when the economy improved and is currently at about the same level as the post-Gore peak. Now here’s a look at where climate change ranks compared to other environmental issues. This is the percentage of people who said they worried “a great deal” about each of the listed problems:

Climate change hangs out in the middle with four other issues that poll at the same level. Put these two charts together and it’s clear that people are thinking more about climate change these days, but without a ton of urgency.


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