Now that the historic Paris pact has been agreed upon for a worldwide effort to reduce global warming caused by humans, a majority of folks back home may not be all that thrilled.
What exactly do Americans think about global warming? Indeed, what do Missourians and Kansans think? What do residents of Jackson County and Johnson County think?
Thanks to 2014 research conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, we now know public attitudes on global warming nationally, by state and even at the county level.
Nationally, about 63 percent of Americans say global warming is happening. Yet, only 48 percent think global warming is caused mostly by human activities. The attitudes of both Missourians and Kansans were spot-on with the national results.
There is, however, one noticeable difference in comparing county attitudes.
As one might expect, in Democrat-leaning Jackson County, a small majority — 51 percent — believe global warming is caused by humans. However, in Republican-leaning Johnson County, only 46 percent believe that humans are causing it.
Everyone knows that nearly all scientists — 97 percent, according to one study — have concluded that man-made global warming is for real.
Well, not everyone knows that.
Only 41 percent of Americans agree that nearly all scientists have come to the same conclusion. The range is the same between the two states and the two counties. It is in the range of only 35 to 41 percent who think that is true. Apparently, the word has not gotten out from the scientific community as to the broad consensus.
Is global warming already harming people in the United States?
While just 42 percent of Americans believe that is true, in red-state of Kansas, only 38 percent think global warming is harming people now.
Tell that to Californians who have suffered the worst drought in years!
But here is an interesting twist.
Will global warming harm future generations?
Remember, only 42 percent nationally thought harm was being done now. That might suggest that about the same number would worry about future generations. But, alas, that is not the case. In the U.S., 61 percent think future generations will be adversely affected. In both states and in both counties, the numbers hover around the same.
President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency have declared by executive decree that CO2 must be reduced in America, particularly in power plants, and even more specifically, in coal-fired plants.
What do the locals think about that? Both Missouri and Kansas have their share of coal-fired plants.
In Kansas, 63 percent think there should be limits on coal-fired plants, which is kind of surprising, given that only a minority in both states think humans are causing global warming. A whopping 74 percent of Missourians agree. Politicians, beware. This is a hot potato, and a politician probably would not want to come down on the side of leaving coal-fired plants alone.
What about renewable energy sources? Are skeptics interested in that? Or is it perceived as a waste of time and money?
The question was asked, “Do you support funding research into renewable energy sources?” Here comes the shocker, based on all the other answers.
A landslide of 77 percent nationwide, as well as about the same in both states and both counties, want the research done. That suggests to me that we could get national funding for this research, given its popularity.
Two takeaways from the study: One, our two states and two counties, for the most part, mirror the national attitudes. Second, there is a long way to go to convince the public that humans are causing global warming.
Steve Rose, longtime Johnson County columnist: firstname.lastname@example.org