Americans cool on global warming action

Public support in the US for government action on climate change has fallen over the last two years, thanks to political rhetoric and a bit of cold weather.

A new survey by Stanford researchers in collaboration with Ipsos Public Affairs shows that support for a range of policies intended to reduce future climate change dropped by ten percentage points between 2010 and 2012.

In a 2010 Stanford survey, more than three-quarters of respondents were in favor of mandating less polluting cars, appliances, homes, offices and power plants. Nearly 90 percent favored federal tax breaks for companys generating renewable energy.

On average, 72 percent of respondents supported government action on climate change in 2010 – a figure that’s now just 62 percent.

The drop was concentrated among Americans who distrust climate science – who were especially influenced by recent shifts in world temperature – and even more so among people who said they were Republican.

Many appear to have been influenced by the recent Republican presidential candidate campaign. Virtually all candidates expressed doubt about global warming, and some urged the government stop trying to to address the issue.

Rick Santorum described belief in climate change as a ‘pseudo-religion’, while Ron Paul called it a ‘hoax’. And Mitt Romney, the apparent Republican nominee, said, “I can tell you the right course for America with regard to energy policy is to focus on job creation and not global warming.”

Interestingly, the study found no evidence that the decline in public support for government action came from respondents who lived in economically struggling states.

Overall, the poll found, most Americans still support many specific government actions to mitigate global warming’s effect. However, most are against consumer taxes intended to decrease the use of electricity and gasoline.