A growing number of people think the risk of climate change is exaggerated, according to a Gallop poll. About 4 out of 10 Americans think the media overestimate the threat, the highest in a decade of polling. Although the majority still believe the media get it right or underestimate the problem, this number has been falling, while those who think its overblown is rising.
What’s ironic about these stats is that they almost directly precede a statement by hundreds scientists that climate change is actually worse than we originally thought. Meeting in Copenhagen on Thursday, nearly 2,000 researchers issued a statement that global warming is not only “accelerating” beyond the worse predictions, but the changes were threatening to trigger “irreversible” climate shifts on the planet.” These statements, which update the the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, offer stark forecasts. The panel previously predicted a sea level rise of 18 to 59 centimetres by the end of the century. Those figures have now been revised upwards, to between 50 centimetres to one metre. When a consensus of international scientists warns that the problem is worse than predicted, the media doesn’t need to exaggerate: accepting the facts is hard enough.