Bad news for polar bears and anyone who lives on the coasts: Fewer Americans believe in the evidence of global warming according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The number of those who consider the evidence "solid" dropped from 77 percent in 2006 to 57 percent in early October.
Republicans have always been skeptical of the evidence while Democrats have tended to agree with the prevailing scientific consensus that global warming is a real problem. But with misinformation clouding the facts even Democratic numbers dropped from 83 percent last year to 75 percent today, reflecting a disturbing trend.
The biggest drop is among independents. Those who believe the evidence for global warming is irrefutable dropped from 75 percent in April 2008 to 53 percent today. As woeful as these numbers are, it would be a mistake for climate change deniers to believe they have a mandate for opposing limits on carbon emissions. Half the public, though unsure of many aspects of the debate, continue to favor limits on emissions.
Still, the number of Americans who choose to ignore the growing body of scientific data is worrisome. Those who discount the impact of humans on the environment ultimately have to reconcile their ideology with the reality of shrinking ice caps and rising sea levels.