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US Leads World in Climate Change Denial

UK study shows US to be least concerned about global warming

(Chart: Ipsos MORI, "Global Trends" survey)

Even as the planet continues to grow warmer — with June 2014 the hottest June on record — just 54 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “The climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity,” according to a U.K.-based research firm's study

This makes the U.S. the world leader in climate denial.

Just as worrisome, the "Global Trends" survey of adults in 20 countries found that the U.S. is the least concerned about climate change. Only 57 percent of Americans agree with this statement: "We are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly." In contrast, 91 percent of Chinese respondents agreed. (The poll authors note that data was collected online and therefore reflects the beliefs of more affluent and connected people in developing countries like China and India.) 

In an analysis for the journalistic collaboration Climate Desk, Chris Mooney notes that the top three climate-denial countries (the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia) have something in common: they all speak English — as do the 91 separate organizations that comprise the core of the climate-denial movement. Plus, they are home to media organizations and think tanks that "provide the arguments and rationalizations necessary to feed this anti-science position."

Mooney quotes Riley Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who has studied those who counter the claim of climate change:

I do not find these results surprising. It's the countries where neo-liberalism is most hegemonic and with strong neo-liberal regimes (both in power and lurking on the sidelines to retake power) that have bred the most active denial campaigns—US, UK, Australia and now Canada. And the messages employed by these campaigns filter via the media and political elites to the public, especially the ideologically receptive portions.

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