Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding

We present some public attitudes and understanding from results of polls taken by various polling organizations on questions relative to energy sources and global warming.  These are listed in the National Science Board Report from 2018.  The polls date from 2016, unless otherwise noted.

Nuclear Energy

In 2010, the statements:  Favor the use of nuclear energy (Gallup) got 62% support, and Favor promoting nuclear energy (Pew) got 47%.

But in 2016, after Fukushima, Favor the use of nuclear energy got only 44%, or lost 18%.  Favor building nuclear energy plants (Pew) got 43%, a 4% loss.

Climate Scientist’s Belief in Global Warming

“Most scientists believe that global warming is occurring” (Gallup) got 65%.  Note that this did not specify climate scientists only.

“More than 90% of climate scientists think that human caused global warming is happening” (Yale and GMU) only got 13%.  The generally accepted figure is that 97% of climate scientists believe this.  This should have been included in the “more than 90%”.  People used to use 95%.  The 97% has even been quoted on several late night TV shows.  We have really failed to drive this home.

Worried about global warming?

Three polls concerned about very or somewhat worried about global warming turned up concerns of 64%, 60%, and 57%.  These were taken in 2016 before the 2017 Houston flood, the Florida and Puerto Rico Hurricanes, and the California fires.

Convinced of global warming?

Two polls showed that 48% and 44% were convinced that global warming was happening.  Another poll showed that only 7% were sure that global warming was not happening.  A remarkable 24% thought that they understood global warming very well.  We must keep up the education, especially when our federal government has been taken over by the fossil fuel companies, who erase such education.



About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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