80% now say climate change is happening -- but only 60% think it's because of us
Any good news on the climate change front is worth celebrating, and today it comes in the form of new survey results revealing that 80 percent of Americans now agree that the climate is changing. The bad news? Only 60 percent say it's because of man-made activities.
Apparently 40 percent of Americans know something climate scientists do not -- after all, 97 percent of these experts agree that "climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities."
The survey failed to ask this 40 percent contingency what they did believe was causing climate change, though another recent survey suggests the answer may be something a bit more... supernatural.
According to the Public Religion Institute, 49 percent of Americans believe that extreme weather events are a sign of the "end times." That number has actually increased from 44 percent in 2011, so the raw statistic that "8 out of 10 Americans agree climate change is happening" may not be the "tipping point" of public approval some believe it to be.
Regardless of public opinion, there have been some positive developments on the global climate front. Last month, the US and China reached a landmark agreement to cut carbon emissions. That would not only diminish the carbon footprint of two of the biggest industrialized nations in the world, but would also hopefully spur other countries to do the same.
It remains to be seen, however, what the next US administration plans to do about climate change. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has pledged her support for combating climate change, but has thus far been vague about how she plans to do so. In a recent speech to the League of Conservation Voters, Clinton came out in support of hydraulic fractured gas drilling, a technique that, if not properly, can result in contamination of local water supplies. That said, its carbon footprint is far lower than that of coal.
As for the Keystone XL pipeline, Clinton stayed silent. Some might call that punting, considering the pipeline has become a stand-in for every environmental debate in America. But in truth, the pipeline's job creation supported by Republicans and the environmental damage condemned by Democrats are both likely overstated.
In any case, these survey results show that the majority of Americans may no longer hide their heads in the sand when it comes to the reality of climate change. Now, whether or not policymakers are willing to risk the political capital to do something about it -- and whether or not average citizens are willing to make personal sacrifices themselves -- remains to be seen.