Right, The Hill, Polls Do Show Declining Public Concern About Climate Change

The Hill posted an article discussing the fact that a recent survey indicates that the public’s concern about climate change is waning, especially among younger people, those we are constantly told are most concerned about and demanding governments take action to fight climate change. This poll’s results are confirmed by another recent independent survey which came to the same conclusion. Despite a daily barrage of mainstream media stories alternately proclaiming “we have just X number of years fight to radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions before it’s too late to save the planet,” or that we face a “climate crisis,” or that  “climate change is an existential threat,” polls show the public is increasingly immune to the message.

Dozens of surveys conducted by a variety of noted polling organizations over the past two decades consistently demonstrate a few clear results: 1) a plurality or slight majority of the public (or registered voters, or people likely to vote—depending upon the polling organization’s criteria) are somewhat or very concerned about climate change; 2) when asked to rank climate change against other public policy issues of concern, climate change ranks last or near last among the issues of concern; 3) when asked how much those polled were willing to pay to fight climate change, or alternately the degree to which government should act to restrict or direct peoples’ choices to fight climate change, the answer is very little, to the former, or not much, to the latter.

Discussing the results of a recent survey conducted by the Monmouth University, The Hill writes:

Fewer Americans today see climate change as a “very serious” problem than they did three years ago, according to a new survey released Monday.

The Monmouth University poll, conducted on April 18-22 shows a 10-point decline in Americans who says climate change is a “very serious” problem, falling from 56 percent in September 2021 to 46 percent in April.

Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, attributed this trend to a decline in urgency among Americans.

“Most Americans continue to believe climate change is real. The difference in these latest poll results is a decline in a sense of urgency around this issue,” Murray said.

Perhaps surprising to many, the decline in concern among adults ages 18-34 was 17 points. In 2021 67 percent of that demographic said climate change was a “very serious” problem compared to just 50 percent in the most recent survey.

Interestingly, Monmouth’s survey found 27 percent of those surveyed did not believe climate change was happening or were unsure of it (an increase from 24 percent in 2021). And, almost as many survey participants believed human activities and natural changes in the environment were equally responsible for climate change (31 percent) as those who believed that human actions alone were responsible (34 percent).

The Monmouth poll is not really all that surprising to anyone who has closely followed surveys asking questions about climate change during the past two decades or longer.

On Earth Day, April 24, Breitbart reported on Gallup’s annual Earth Day poll, a survey it has undertaken since 2000. Its results were consistent with pervious Earth Day surveys. Finding the environment in general, and climate change, in particular, ranked very low on the list of the public’s issues of concern. Gallup’s 2024 poll found that despite decades of climate doomsaying fewer people worried a great deal about climate change in 2024 (42 percent) than were very worried about it in 2020, when the stated concern hit its high point (46 percent) in more than 20 years of surveys asking the question.

In Gallup’s survey a majority (55 percent), said they did not believe that climate change would pose a serious threat in their own lifetime.

Also, when ranked against other issues confronting the nation, as Gallup states: “Environmental Worries Lag Behind Economic and Social Issues,” which is also consistent with past surveys. And all of this is despite nearly two decades of climate alarm propagandizing in the mainstream media.

“Among the leading issues confronting the nation, the environment ranks as a lesser public concern, with 37% saying they worry a great deal about environmental quality,” Gallup reports.

In fact, worry about “the quality of the environment” (the category climate change was lumped into, tied for 11th place with “the availability and affordability of energy,” at 37 percent, out of the 14 issues of concern Gallup listed. Only race relations and unemployment at 35 percent and 33 percent, respectively, ranked lower. By contrast, more than 50 percent of those surveyed said that they worry a great deal about inflation, crime and violence, hunger and homelessness, the economy, affordable health care, and government spending. Concern about illegal immigration, drug use, the social security system, and the possibility of a terrorist attack all also ranked above concern about a quality environment.

Of course, climate change is just one environmental challenge lumped together under the category “quality of the environment.” When various environmental issues were polled individually, poll participants said pollution of drinking water; pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams; and contamination of soil and water by toxic waste were each more worrying to them than climate change. And this response comes despite the fact those topics collectively are rarely discussed by politicians, and never as an existential threat to human life, and get a fraction of the coverage climate change does.

It’s good when the media acknowledges the public’s true depth of concern about climate change and whether they believe it poses a credible threat to their lives or standards of living, rather than simply asserting it based on their writers’ personal beliefs and commitments to fighting climate change. The Hill and Breitbart are to be applauded for publicizing these recent surveys that most mainstream media outlets have largely ignored. The survey data show, that while a plurality of those surveyed are somewhat concerned about climate change, most think it will have little impact on their lives, and it ranks very low on the list of issues people think confront the United States and the world.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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  1. Climate alarmism is a mental distortion just like blaming a bad upbringing for the reason people have criminal tendencies! The climate has no bearing on whether you have good or bad things happening! People can’t do anything to prevent weather related events than to take shelter! There have been great floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and other extreme weather events since the world was created! Blaming one’s problems and behavior on unrelated factors is a common theme for people having difficulty coping with depression!


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