A recent opinion poll in the US had 70% of respondents agreeing that global warming was happening.
After a decade or more of IPCC reports and any number of respected scientists pointing to the evidence, not to mention the school kids gathering in the streets, the message appears to have landed with a significant majority.
Climate-related disasters worldwide that grabbed headlines helped, as did the heavy-duty local weather events that everyone has experienced in the last few years.
Of course, that 70% changes on party lines. Almost all Democrats, some 89%, accept the science of a climate emergency, whilst 42% of Republicans agreed that global warming is a reality and a third deny it altogether.
When it came to what causes climate change, two-thirds of Democrats went with a human cause. One in five Republicans agree humans are responsible, many citing disagreement among scientists as the reason for doubt. No matter that a separate survey of scientists had near-unanimous agreement (99.9%) that the climate emergency results from human actions.
All this is pretty predictable and has been in the wind for a while.
Report after report has carried the evidence.
In 2021, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) State of the Global Climate 2020 reported carbon dioxide levels at 413.2 parts per million in 2020, rising more than the average rate over the last decade despite a temporary dip in emissions during COVID-19 lockdowns.
After the long and hostile climate denial wars that still linger in some parts of the world, notably in the Australian government, most people are convinced that something is happening. However, Greta would be quick to say that we are not concerned enough about the crisis.
A single barrel of oil has the energy equivalent to four years of labour by a healthy human. Photo by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash
The blame game
Back to the original opinion survey in the US where there is a statistic that explains the delay and the lack of urgency.
More than 60% of respondents said oil and gas companies were “completely or mostly responsible” for global warming.
Ah, yes, the ‘them, not us’ response.
The majority now believe in the science that says climate change is real but another majority reckon it is the fault of the fossil fuel industry.
It is worth a pause here.
Let that response sink in.
Close to two out of three people blame the oil companies for global warming.
Only those companies, who admittedly are out to maximise shareholder value, the same objective of just about every other for-profit organisation on the planet, are extracting and selling a resource. They can do this because they have buyers.
Now those buyers are other companies that convert oil to energy or put the refined oil into their aircraft and commercial vehicles or refine the oil into a host of products that end up on the shelves of retail outlets.
We buy the products and a ticket to put our butt in seat F3 of the Airbus A380.
I think this ‘them, not us’ dissonance is more critical than taking a decade to get the science.
It explains why the youngsters are so frustrated at the ‘blah, blah, blah’. They know that rhetoric panders to this avoidance of responsibility.
Luckily, it is all fine because we have Boris, Scotty, and Donald. Oh my lordy.
Hero image from photo by Chris LeBoutillier on Unsplash