Climate change—it’s happening. Americans’ awareness of this fact is at an all time high, according to a new survey. Maybe someone should tell mainstream news channels.
Despite a recent spate of record-smashing heat waves across the United States, very few major broadcast TV networks used the opportunity to discuss linkages between extreme heat and climate change. That’s according to a recent analysis by Media Matters, which found that while 127 TV news segments from ABC, CBS, and NBC talked about the heat wave from June 27 through July 10, only one—the July 3rd episode of CBS This Morning—mentioned climate change. In it, CBS weathercaster Lonnie Quinn said there is a “really good, strong understanding that there’s a correlation between climate change and extreme hot and extreme cold.”
Indeed, there’s strong scientific evidence that climate change is already influencing the frequency and intensity of the heat waves and will continue to do so in the future. And the American public seems increasingly aware of this.
A new survey conducted in May by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College found that 73 percent of Americans think there is solid evidence for global warming. The survey also found that 60 percent people are aware that global warming is happening and that humans are at least partially to blame. These two results are the highest percentage of people that have recognized human-caused climate change since the poll began in 2008. The previous iteration of the survey, in the fall of 2017, found that 70 percent of respondents agreed there is solid evidence for climate change, while 58 percent accepted the harsh reality of a man-made global warming.
This increased acknowledgement might be connected to the record high temperatures occurring more and more often. This past May, when the poll was conducted, was the hottest May in 124 years of record keeping, The Guardian reports. This is consistent with a growing body of research that suggests that weather experiences can shape our views on global warming.
“There’s lots of evidence that contemporary weather is a contributing factor to belief in climate change,” Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, told the Guardian.
So c’mon, newscasters. Give the people what they want: scientifically sound and contextualized news.