More Americans Think the Media Exaggerates Climate Change Risks

More Americans Think the Media Exaggerates Climate Change Risks

While Americans generally believe that climate change is real, the number who think the media exaggerates the risks is growing, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Forty-one percent of Americans think the seriousness of climate change is generally overblown in the news -- a record high since polling on the subject began in 1997. In comparison, just 28 percent of those surveyed say news coverage underestimates risks.

 Gallup 2009 Environment survey
”As recently as 2006, significantly more Americans thought the news underestimated the seriousness of global warming than said it exaggerated it, 38% vs. 30%. Now, according to Gallup's 2009 Environment survey, more Americans say the problem is exaggerated rather than underestimated, 41% vs. 28%." -- Gallup

The survey results come during a wave of truly dismal research findings. The Associated Press, for instance, just published an early snapshot of 40 analyses commissioned by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that predict climate change impacts will incur billions of dollars in costs and revenue losses each year in the state by 2050.

And the word coming out of a climate change meeting in Copenhagen this week confirms what many have feared: climate change is accelerating faster than previous predictions by the International Panel on Climate Change.

The Gallup survey also reveals an interesting trend line between perception and political ideology. Republicans have historically been more likely to believe news coverage of climate change is overstated, Gallup said.

This year, however, there’s been a significant surge in the number of skeptical registered independents, from 33 percent in 2008 to 44 percent this year. The rates for Democrats and Americans under 30 years old held steady. 

Source: Gallup 2009 Environment survey  Gallup 2009 Environment survey

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