Despite low engagement with the scale of the problems, people are still worried.
Our new polling also showed that 60% of Americans reject President Donald Trump’s past assertion that global warming is an “expensive hoax” – and instead, 62% agree that the world is facing a “climate change emergency, with the threat of irreversible destruction of our environment in our lifetime”.
But there are huge differences in these attitudes between Republicans and Democrats. Seven in ten Democrats strongly disagree that global warming is an expensive hoax, compared with just 17% of Republicans. Half of Republicans disagree that the world is facing a climate change emergency, compared with just 6% of Democrats.
This very different view between party supporters is despite only relatively small differences in perceptions of the reality between the two groups. This shows that attitudes to big issues like climate change are sometimes so tied up with political identity, including attachment to political parties, that understanding the facts is often secondary.
This is a real challenge for those campaigning for climate action. It’s not enough to just provide more facts and expect people to hear them and act, regardless of how extraordinary those facts are.