Poll reveals climate change less of a 'hot button' topic

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Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 brought global warming to the forefront, generating awareness and demand for change in the years that followed. However, a new poll shows many rural citizens have lost interest in the topic.

Information collected in the poll compared new data to results from 2008. Over the past five years respondents are more accepting of climate change, and that human activity is at least one of the factors contributing to changing weather patterns.

According to the data, 73 percent of respondents believe to some degree that climate change is happening, with 25 percent definitely agreeing and another 48 percent somewhat agreeing. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) agree that human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change.

While respondents acknowledge climate change, results also show a lowered sense of urgency.

Compared to the 2008 poll, the percentage of people seeing climate change as something people can control fell by 10 percent to 41 percent. The number of people who believe climate change is just part of normal climate patterns increased by 10 percent to 47 percent.

Respondents have been affected by consecutive years of drought which has affected crops and livestock operations. Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, UNL Extension specialist based at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, says the current weather pattern may have jaded responders who have seen scientists blame both the state's 2011 floods and 2012 drought on climate change.

The economy also plays a factor in people’s demand for action. According to the poll, sixty percent of respondents said they think something needs to be done in their lifetime to deal with climate change, with half believing something needs to be done immediately. However, fewer rural Nebraskans believe immediate action from the government is necessary – 38 percent, down from 53 percent in 2008.

UNL public policy specialist Brad Lubben says people understand change requires existing investments to get future results.

"The public decided, in the midst of an economic downturn, that costs to the economy were too great a price to pay for the promised future benefits to the climate," Lubben said.

The poll team was surprised to find that the poll indicated that more educated rural Nebraskans are less likely than others to support immediate action by the government to deal with climate change. Thirty-seven percent of those with at least a bachelor's degree supported it, compared to 40 percent of those with a high school diploma or less.

A decision by Congress to reject legislation regulating greenhouse gas emissions may have also reduced the public’s urgency for change.

The poll conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln collected 2,317 responses from respondents living in rural parts of the state.

See more results here.



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mememine69    
Detroit  |  September, 12, 2013 at 08:03 AM

In 28 years science has only said it COULD be a climate crisis so why are you remaining believers threatening our children saying it WILL be a crisis when science has NEVER said or agreed it WILL be a crisis?

Kyle    
VT  |  September, 12, 2013 at 08:18 AM

I think people are trying to make others aware, not threaten them. Climate change is a very broad term that covers lots of ideas. More concrete information that is happening includes: polluting our small amount of fresh water, using ground water at a faster rate than it can be replenished, and depleting soils due to continued monoculture crop production with high energy inputs. These are issues that are confirmed and happening as we speak. Climate change is what happens when all of these smaller issues build up into one collective problem. Areas that were fertile turn to desert. Areas that had great soil turn to areas with depleted soils. This is climate change. Kyle

Ken    
Sout Carolina  |  September, 12, 2013 at 09:07 AM

The web site www.nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews reports that the Sept 1 arctic ice sheet is about 5.5 million square kilometers in area, where last year it was about 4 million sq k at the same date. Hmmm, not much of a problem this year. All this is cyclic and it appears the CO2 content of the earth's atmosphere rises AFTER the earth's temperature rises. In other words, we have the cause and effect backwards. Conclusion, no need to tax the American Taxpayer one trillion dollars to reduce the earth's temperature 0.07 degrees F (which one study estimated). I have nothing against common sense conservation and recycling, but let's not lose our common sense here and give more power to our Federal Government.

Robert    
Denver  |  September, 12, 2013 at 09:13 AM

This may be oversimplified but a wikipedia search under "species extinct" reveals this quote. "it is estimated that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct" That will suffice for me the climate has always changed and always will. Sorry Al Gore, I'm not buying what you're selling.

Elmer    
Illinois  |  September, 14, 2013 at 02:08 PM

Not oversimplified at all, Robert. The species that are now extinct were too stupid to realize what was coming at them and take steps to mitigate, prepare, adapt, and survive. Too bad that even though we realize what's coming, we're too greedy to believe it and take these steps. We'll be the richest extinct species in the graveyard.

cwon14    
September, 16, 2013 at 01:20 PM

Junk science panics fail in the end. The issue here is understanding the statist agenda behind the U.N., IPCC, Global left's ambitions regarding carbon "regulations". It was always a power and money pit. Sad our "science" has been reduced down to "journalism" and op-ed levels of the NYTimes. Another partisan enclave that will in our lifetime have to be treated as such.

Michael    
Kansas  |  September, 18, 2013 at 01:35 PM

Cwon14, Exactly Right! And soon we'll be seeing the IPPC report where they will be admitting, with many disclaimers, excuses & " explanations", that they've been lying and covering-up false & incomplete data in their putsch for international control. Rational people of good will and intent are always concerned and conscious of the state of the planet we live on. However, we trust in actual science where careful consideration over time informs planning, not breathless fear-mongering for fame and fortune by power, publicity and tax fund hungry academics and politicians.

Michael    
Kansas  |  September, 18, 2013 at 02:07 PM

Meme.., You are right, Kyle is wrong. Hope Kyle is simply uninformed, but I doubt it. Recent studies of primary school children have shown they have extremely high levels of conscious & unconscious levels of anxiety regarding global warming and often have nightmares. Sources creating fears come from the barrage of media reporting & editorializing, political speech, online "advocacy" and even school supplied materials. Study shows that this type of condition has only been seen before in the days of imminent nuclear attack (duck & cover). Climate is always changing, but billions are not going to die in our children's life-time because of, as AlGore & the IPPC have THREATENED over and over.

Michael    
Kansas  |  September, 18, 2013 at 02:07 PM

Meme.., You are right, Kyle is wrong. Hope Kyle is simply uninformed, but I doubt it. Recent studies of primary school children have shown they have extremely high levels of conscious & unconscious levels of anxiety regarding global warming and often have nightmares. Sources creating fears come from the barrage of media reporting & editorializing, political speech, online "advocacy" and even school supplied materials. Study shows that this type of condition has only been seen before in the days of imminent nuclear attack (duck & cover). Climate is always changing, but billions are not going to die in our children's life-time because of, as AlGore & the IPPC have THREATENED over and over.

Kyle    
VT  |  September, 19, 2013 at 08:17 AM

Michael, please don't come to Vermont when Kansas runs out of water. This has nothing to do with Al Gore or the IPPC. Irrigation pumps are starting to suck up more and more sand in Kansas. This is because the aquifers are being drained. That is not a natural cycle. That is humans raping the Earth of its resources.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  September, 19, 2013 at 08:27 AM

What always amazes me on the change people is that theyknow people are causing the problem but more people never comes up. Seems that population control would have a bigger long term benefit than anything else they are trying to do but they will never consider that.


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