Mark Twain once said, “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” A recent poll indicates that most Americans (51%) attribute weather conditions to long-term planetary trends while only 19% point the finger to human activity. But you can bet this won’t stop the debate about who really is to blame.
The storms and flooding that have devastated the South and Midwest are not due to climate change according to leading meteorologists. These pronouncements have not kept activists from heating up the debate once again over global warming. Getting their message out is not a problem, since a willing press stands ready to cooperate.
Images remain fresh in our minds of the destruction caused by countless tornados and the Mississippi River overflowing its banks like we have not seen in 75 years. However, a Rasmussen poll conducted in early May shows that only 39% of respondents believed the weather in their area was the worst in recent memory.
When asked if you or a family member has been affected by severe weather an overwhelming 76% said no, 15% said yes and 8% were not sure. Clearly, the media coverage made people aware of the problem but relatively few were impacted by it. As to who should have the financial responsibility for weather related disasters, 36% say the federal government, 26% believe this should fall on local agencies, 22% felt individuals should and 16% were not sure.
Age and political affiliation and, to a lesser extent, gender separate the issue as to who is to blame for the weather. About one in three of those 18 to 29 years of age say long term planetary trends are the reason for the extreme weather conditions, but six in ten of the 30 to 49 year olds point to planetary trends as do about half of those over 50.
More men (55%) say planetary trends are the cause of weather conditions compared to women (46%). Not unexpectedly, politics plays a role in responses with 69% of the Republicans and 50% of the unaffiliated believing long-term planetary trends are the causes. Democrats are split on this but, should tragedy occur, a plurality (48%) looks to the federal government to intervene financially compared to 28% of Republicans and 31% of Independents.
Half those surveyed thought the government was doing a good to excellent job in responding to the disasters. In addition, 49% have or will donate to relief fund for victims. And, 64% of respondents say the economy will be hurt in the aftermath.
So it appears that Americans will continue to talk about the weather and its consequences but the majority of them don’t believe they can do anything about changing the climate. However, politicians being what they are will surely find ways to try to convince us that our thinking is wrong so they can spend money trying to fix an unfixable problem. Haven’t they ever heard of the laws of nature?