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Timeline of recent environmental concerns

Part 4: 2014/5:
How Americans viewed climate change.
HFC limits. Groups abandoning ALEC.
Species extinction due to climate change.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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opposing hand gestures2014-MAR: Gallup's report on American's views of climate change:

Circa 2014-MAR-07, Gallup conducted a series of telephone interviews of 513 adults. Because the sample taken was so small, the survey's margin of error was high: ±6 percentage points.

Views on climate change, as viewed by American adults are:

  • Climate change is not a top concern:

Gallup found that topics like the economy, federal spending, federal budget deficit, healthcare, unemployment, etc. were of greatest concern to Americans. Climate change was the 14th concern in a list of 16 -- just above race relations. Only 25% of those polled worried about "... this problem a great deal...."

Gallup reported that: "Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 45% say they worry a great deal about the quality of the environment. This percentage drops to 16% among Republicans and Republican leaners.

Democrats, conversely, are much less worried than Republicans about the size and power of the federal government, and about the size of federal spending and of the budget deficit." 1

  • Americans don't view global warming as a serious threat:

Gallup reported that 65% of American adults agree that global warming is happening now, or will happen during their lifetime. This number has not changed over the previous two years. The value has stayed between 75% and 62% since 1998 when Gallup started to measure it.

However only 36% believe that global warming will pose a serious threat to their way of life. Again, this belief has been relatively constant within 3 percentage points over the past two years. Perception that global warming will pose a serious threat has risen from 25% in 1998, reached a peak of 40% in 2008, and has varied between 32% to 38% since 2009. 2

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  • Americans don't link colder weather to climate change:

Gallup reports that 66% of Americans feel that their local temperatures have been colder this winter compared to previous years. Of this 66%:

  • 46% believe that this is merely normal temperature variations.
  • 19% believe that it is caused by human-caused climate change.
  • 1% are unsure.

Gallup found that:

"Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who perceive colder temperatures in their areas attribute this to climate change, compared with 11% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who perceive colder temperatures.

Meanwhile, 51% of Democrats and Democratic leaners experiencing drought attribute it to global warming, compared with 14% of Republicans. ..."

Recent years have brought extreme weather to the United States and raised the possibility that it is evidence of global warming's effects. But Americans tend not to attribute this winter's colder weather in most of the country, or the drought in the Southwestern part of the country, to global warming or climate change. Rather, they are more likely to view these as simply normal variations in weather patterns. ... Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to believe this. The belief that temperature extremes are part of normal variation is not new; almost eight in 10 Americans in 2012 thought that the temperatures that winter had been warmer than usual, but most of those also said this reflected normal variations rather than the effect of global warming." 3

Most North Americans are probably not aware that even though most of their region has experienced much colder than normal during the winter of 2013/2014, the world as a whole has heated up.

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2014-SEP-16: Voluntary reduction of a hydroflurocarbon R-134a:

At a meeting at the White House, 22 companies and organizations wile commit to cut HFC emissions, phase out its use, or use refrigerants that are more climate-friendly by the year 2020. Since HFCs are 10,000 more potent than the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, this move is expected to have a signficant effect on reducing climage change. Without this agreement, HFC emissions were expected to triple by the year 2030. 4

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2014-SEP-26: Major companies abandon support of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):

According to Think Progress, the Council is a major conservative group that drafts model state legislation on topics ranging from health policy to education. They appear to have taken a major role in the creation of voter suppression laws to benefit Republican party candidates. They have also actively spread misinformation about climate change, killed renewable energy programs and taught climate denial in schools.

Back in In 2012, Amazon, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Kraft, McDonalds, and Wal-Mart abandoned ALEC because of the latter's support for state "Stand Your Ground" laws like the one used to justify Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida.

During 2014, another group of large companies severed their ties with ALEC. Microsoft announced in 2014-AUG that it was disengaging. During the week of SEP-21, Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo also severed their links.

Google chairperson Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio:

"I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake, and so we're trying to not do that in the future. ... The facts of climate change are not in question anymore. ... 'Everyone understands climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. 'And so we should not be aligned with such people -- they're just, they're just literally lying.'

Think Progress commented:

"ALEC’s network is powerful and secretive. It’s bad business for companies to be associated with liars, and as more of ALEC’s distortions come to light, more companies will sever ties. They’re wrong on climate change, but once other businesses and the public realize how wrong they are on issues ranging from civil rights to economic inequality, other companies associated with ALEC will drop the organization too." 4,5

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2015-APR-30: Global warming could threaten 1 in 6 species (16%):

Science magazine published an article in its 2015-MAY-01 issue. The Abstract reads:

"Current predictions of extinction risks from climate change vary widely depending on the specific assumptions and geographic and taxonomic focus of each study. I synthesized published studies in order to estimate a global mean extinction rate and determine which factors contribute the greatest uncertainty to climate change–induced extinction risks. Results suggest that extinction risks will accelerate with future global temperatures, threatening up to one in six species under current policies. Extinction risks were highest in South America, Australia, and New Zealand, and risks did not vary by taxonomic group. Realistic assumptions about extinction debt and dispersal capacity substantially increased extinction risks. We urgently need to adopt strategies that limit further climate change if we are to avoid an acceleration of global extinctions."

The extinction risks in variious areas of the world would be:

  • 5% of North American species.
  • 6% European species.
  • 8% Asian and Russian species.
  • 12% of marine species.
  • 12% African species.
  • 14% Australian and New Zealand species.
  • 23% South American species. 7,8

"Current policies" on climate change, as mentioned above, involve limiting temperature rise to 4.3 degrees Celsius (7.7 degrees Fahrenheit). The extinction rates would increase greatly with temperature rise.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Rebecca Riffkin, "Climate change not a top worry in U.S.," Gallup, 2014-MAR-12, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  2. Jeffrey M. Jones, "In U.S., Most Do Not See Global Warming as Serious Threat," Gallup, 2014-MAR-13, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  3. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Don't Attribute Colder Weather to Climate Change," Gallup, 2014-MAR-14, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  4. Laura Barron-Lopez, "Obama unveils major new effort to tackle climate change," The Hill, 2014-SEP-16, at: http://thehill.com/
  5. Cap Action War Room, "Major Tech Companies Cut Ties With The Secretive Conservative Lobbying Organization," Think Progress, 2014-SEP-26, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  6. Ellie Zolfagharifard, " 'People who oppose climate change are really hurting our children': Google chairman cuts ties with lobby group for 'lying' about global warming," Daily Mail, 2014-SEP-23, at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
  7. John Upton, "Global Warming could threaten 1 in 6 species," Climate Central, 2015-APR-30, at: http://www.climatecentral.org/
  8. Mark C. Urban, "Accelerating extinction risk from climate change," Science, Vol 348, Issue 6234, 2015-MAY, at: http://science.sciencemag.org/

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Copyright © 2013 & 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-JUL
Latest update: 2016-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson


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