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Poll: 85% of Virginians Believe Climate Change is Happening; Vast Ignorance Other Than That


First, here’s the good news on a newly-released survey by the Center for Climate Change Communication George Mason University, “Perceptions of Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Virginia.”

The Good News

*Virginians overwhelmingly (by a 50%-12% margin) say that they notice “extremely hot days becoming more or less frequent in Virginia compared to the past.” Correct answer!

*Virginians overwhelming (by a 53%-12% margin) say that intense storms in Virginia have become “much more frequent” or “somewhat more frequent.” Again, correct answer!

*Best of all, an overwhelming 85% of Virginians believe (not that it’s a matter of “belief,” but whatever…) that climate change is happening. Only 5% are “extremely sure” or “very sure” that it isn’t happening. Yet again, correct answer!

*Among young people, it’s 94%-5%, and among Democrats, it’s 95%-4%. The older and more Republican you get, the higher the number of people who don’t “believe” in climate science. Can we say “brainwashed by Fox News?”

The Not-So-Good News

*Only 31% of Virginians get the correct answer, which is that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing climate change. Although, in fairness, another 36% say it’s a combination of human and natural causes, which is certainly possible (although the role of natural causes is doubtful, at least not to any significant extent).

*22% of Virginians give the blatantly, hilariously wrong answer that climate change is “caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.”

*Just 49% of Virginians say they are worried about climate change. The correct answer should be 100%, as it’s already affecting all of us, and it’s only going to get (much) worse every year that goes by.

*Incredibly, 57% of Virginians somehow have convinced themselves that climate change won’t harm them personally. That’s just blatantly wrong, unless of course those Virginians don’t eat, breathe, get rained or snowed on, have insurance, hunt or fish, farm, etc, etc.

*Only 26% of Virginians say they’ve thought about this existential problem “a lot,” with 32% saying they’ve thought about it “some.” And only 19% say they know “a lot” about this subject, with 51% saying they know “some” and 31% saying they know “not too much” or “nothing at all.” Ugh.

*Possibly the worst answer of all, demonstrating how FUBAR the media coverage of this issue has been (and also how effective the gazillions of dollars in disinformation the fossil fuel companies have pushed out has been), only 43% (!) of Virginians give the correct answer, which is that “[m]ost scientists think climate change is happening.”  34% of Virginians give the completely, wildly incorrect answer that “There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not climate change is happening.” And yes, there’s a big partisan divide on this, with a majority of Democrats giving the correct answer, and 43% of Republicans giving the wrong answer. Again, Fox News brainwashing – combined with outrageously false statements by Republican Congresscritters like Morgan Griffith and Attorney General Ken Kookinelli, as well as  horrendously bad reporting (lacking in almost every way – not enough, false equivalency, you name it) – by the corporate media are a big cause of this problem.

So, let’s review the correct answers: 1) global warming/climate change IS happening; 2) global warming/climate change IS being caused by humans; 3) global warming/climate change IS affecting all of us, and WILL continue to affect all of us, in a negative way; 4) there IS overwhelming (97% or so) consensus among climate scientists on all of this; and 5) anyone who tells you differently IS either ignorant (willfully or not) or lying through their teeth.