Americans worrying less about global warming |

Americans worrying less about global warming

Scott Condon

A national poll conducted to coincide with Earth Day shows that Americans are well aware of global warming. They just aren’t very concerned about it.

The Gallup organization measured concern over environmental issues between March 8 and 11 and found that 51 percent of Americans worry “a great deal” or “a fair amount” about global warming. That’s down from 58 percent in March 2003.

About 47 percent of respondents both this year and last said they worry “only a little” or “not at all” worried about global warming, according to the Gallup Tuesday Briefing, a branch of the famed national pollster.

Leading conservationists in the Rocky Mountains weren’t surprised by the results, but. some said, they find them frustrating.

Randy Udall, director of the Community Office of Resource Efficiency in Aspen and Pitkin County, said that while global warming’s consequences are already apparent, future generations will really pay for the Baby Boomers’ legacy of producing so much carbon dioxide.

“The full damage is going to be borne by future generations even though the damage is being done by us,” Udall said.

Scientists estimate that each Baby Boomer will produce one million pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime, according to Udall. That carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a century after it is produced. So consequences like rising sea levels will take hundreds of years to play out, he said.

If the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are produced were visible or created an odor, the Americans polled by Gallup would be much more concerned about taking immediate action, Udall predicted.

Auden Schendler, director of environmental affairs for the Aspen Skiing Co., said it’s no surprise that Americans’ global warming anxieties dropped over the last year considering the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The public is understandably distracted from environmental problems and other issues, he said.

But he also sees signs that consciousness is growing. A bill to address climate change has the approval of about half the U.S. Senate, he noted. European countries are making huge strides in reducing their carbon dioxide emission.

“They are convinced of this issue because all of their glaciers are toast,” Schendler said.

The Gallup Tuesday Briefing results showed it’s not so much that Americans need convincing that global warming is a real phenomena, they are just complacent about the seriousness of it.

Udall said he believes evidence of global warming where he lives in the Roaring Fork Valley has been apparent in the 30 years he’s lived here. Anybody who has gardened over that period would likely agree that the growing season has gained roughly 10 days. The snow seems to “magically disappear” in spring-time rather than gradually run off.

Support Local Journalism