Climate Denialism Down, But So Is Caring About Climate

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Scientific American and Nature recently published the results of a survey they undertook to understand how Americans feel about science. Unfortunately, because they solicited participation via their respective websites, the 21,000 respondents were above-average in scientific understanding: a whopping 19% had doctorates, versus around 1% of the general population. Predictably, the #1 source of trusted information for this reader group was… wait for it… scientists! The least trusted was “religious authorities.”

Despite this bias, one encouraging finding was that climate denialism is shrinking, and the US is not among the worst offenders. According to the survey, in the US 37% of people are “more certain” humans are changing the climate, while 14% were “more doubtful” of man-made climate change. In contrast, in Japan 22% were more doubtful, and in Brazil, 20%. Overall, however, “Among those respondents who have changed their opinions in the past year, three times more said they are more certain than less certain that humans are changing the climate,” the survey reported.

The Scientific American/Nature survey was directed at a very science-literate crowd. But what about the rest of the nation? Other sources show that believing in climate change is just half the battle. Around 36% of Americans believe in man-made climate change, but 30% of those believers felt the media was “overstating evidence about climate change,” said a January 2010 report by the Brookings Institution. Brookings found that Americans were decreasingly worried about the effects of global warming, with half declaring it a “very serious problem” in 2009, down from 60% a year earlier. A March 2010 Gallup poll echoed these findings, reporting that between 2008 and 2010, 10% fewer people thought global warming would pose a threat to them during their lifetimes. For those who are upset by the lack of public concern and legislative action on climate, the news only gets worse when you move from the American public to its elected officials: A Wonk Room survey found that of all the Republican Senate candidates this year, not a single one supports action on climate. Good luck up there on the Hill, climate activists. You’re gonna need it.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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