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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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