Good News? Percentage of Americans Who Believe Climate Change is Real Reaches New High

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Over the course of  the last decade, the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment (NSEE) has surveyed Americans to determine if they believe there is solid evidence of global warming.

The most recent NSEE survey, conducted during April and May of 2018, found that 73% of Americans now think there is solid evidence of global warming– a level higher than the previous record of  72%, revealed  during the fall of 2008. This survey is the fifth straight survey in which at least 70% of Americans thought  there is evidence that temperatures on the planet are rising.

Source: NSEE, Issues in Energy and Environmental Policy, No. 37 (July 2018), As Americans Experienced the Warmest May on Record Their Acceptance of Global Warming Reaches a New High.

A solid majority of those surveyed, 60%, now believe human activity is at least partially responsible for this warming, with 34% saying humans are primarily responsible and 26% saying they’re partially responsible. The combined  60% that believes humans are at minimum contributing to global warming surpasses the previous record of 58%.

Source: NSEE, Issues in Energy and Environmental Policy, No. 37 (July 2018), As Americans Experienced the Warmest May on Record Their Acceptance of Global Warming Reaches a New High.

There is, however, a striking partisan divide among Democrats, Republicans, and independents on whether global warming is occurring. The most recent NSEE findings indicate this divide is large and modestly widening, with the gap between Democrats and Republicans as large as  40% : 90% of Democrats think there is solid evidence of global warming while 50% of Republicans maintain this same view.

Source: NSEE, Issues in Energy and Environmental Policy, No. 37 (July 2018), As Americans Experienced the Warmest May on Record Their Acceptance of Global Warming Reaches a New High.

So What? We All Know Public Policy Doesn’t Track Public Opinion

These results are good news– I think.

Now, readers may disagree– and despair at the significant minority of people who don’t think climate change is real, and that humans are causing it. To that I retort that at least the numbers are improving, albeit slightly, and this despite massive astroturfing campaigns mounted to the contrary by fossil fuel interests (for more on that score, see this recent DeSmogBlog post, Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting).

Does this incremental shift in public matter?  I would hope so. We all know that there’s a huge disconnect between public opinion and public policy in the United States– due to the money-driven political system. What that means in this regard is that even with a solid proportion of people believing in  climate change caused by humans, those percentages alone won’t override the resources the fossil fuel industry can pour into maintaining the current disastrous system.

A couple of points.  First, the higher those numbers, and the more solid the support for beliefs, the more difficult it is for ALL politicians to ignore public opinion– particularly those political figures who are exploring alternative mechanisms for financing their campaigns that don’t involve auctioning off their principles to the highest bidder.

Second, even at the level of oligarchs and their minions, however much the fossil fuel industry wants to continue to Drill, Baby, Drill and Frack ’Til You Drop, everyone’s not on board with such a program. Some industries  will no doubt profit significantly from a shift away from a fossil fuel economy to a more sustainable system– and we would expect money from those industries devoted to measures to address climate change.

Also, money alone won’t protect the rich from the disastrous climate changed future that’s emerging– and so it’s unsurprising to see some of rich– especially  tech stalwarts– embrace the green energy mantra.

Overall, this means I’d expect some political money spent on a different vision that the Kochs no doubt abhor– but which might benefit all of us.

State Level Action: Some Cause for (Minor) Optimism? 

At the moment, all’s not completely lost– the Trump administration’s dreadful environmental record notwithstanding (and a trend I should point out that can only be expected to worsen,  despite EPA administration Scott Pruitt’s recent resignation, as I wrote in Pruitt Resigns as EPA Chief: So What?).

States, such as California, continue to pursue saner policies.  And some of these policies put states on a collision course with the feds (as I wrote in Trump Regulators and California on Collision Course on Rolling Back Fuel Efficiency Standards).

I ‘ll note here that California last week reported some success in mitigating greenhouse gas pollution, according to this California Air Resource Board (CARB) press release:

The California Air Resources Board today announced that greenhouse gas pollution in California fell below 1990 levels for the first time since emissions peaked in 2004—an achievement roughly equal to taking 12 million cars off the road or saving 6 billion gallons of gasoline a year.

“California set the toughest emissions targets in the nation, tracked progress and delivered results,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “The next step is for California to cut emissions below 1990 levels by 2030 – a heroic and very ambitious goal.”

Under Assembly Bill 32 passed in 2006, California must reduce its emissions to 1990 levels (431 million metric tons) by 2020. The 2016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory published today shows that California emitted 429 million metric tons of climate pollutants in 2016–a drop of 12 million metric tons, or three percent, from 2015.

“In California we see the impacts of climate change all around us, but our efforts to curb its worst impacts are on track. We are well positioned to meet the challenge of the 2030 target,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “This is great news for the health of Californians, the state’s environment and its economy, even as we face the failure of our national leadership to address climate change.”

Senate Bill 32, signed in 2016, requires the state to go even further than AB 32 and cut emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030—the most ambitious carbon goal in North America.

I should also note that according CARB, the 13% drop in carbon pollution since 2004 was achieved over a period in which the state economy grew 24%– a fact suggesting that addressing climate change isn’t necessarily incompatible with economic growth. The state’s per capita emissions continue to be among the lowest in the country and fell 23 percent from a peak of 14 metric tons per person in 2001 to 10.8 metric tons per person in 2016– approximately half as much as the national average.

What Is To Be Done?

Obviously, the scale of the climate problem demands more than piecemeal attention, on a state-by-state basis. The modest recent developments I here rort may make many readers despair. But they suggest that first, the majority of the US public believes climate change is real, and that percentage is increasing. And second, that despite the situation at the federal level– with Trump in the White House and Congress held by Republicans– state level progress on at least reducing current emissions levels is possible. Unfortunately, much more drastic action is necessary.

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  1. Louis Fyne

    kudos for the optimism.

    i’m pessimistic. As for real climate change, the average American would have to live [at the bare minimum] like the average Japanese. Turn the thermostat to 83 in July/65 in January won’t win any votes.

    And the developing world would need to be at 2.1 fertility—which won’t make religious fundamentalists happy. Cuz every sperm is sacred. And in places like, fundamentalists on both sides are having an arms race of who can have the most babies. As more bodies = more control of the country’s political machinery

    1. HotFlash

      Well, my house (no AC, by choice) is currently at 28C, that’s 82.4F, the official temp is 30C (40 humidex) but I have thoughtfully grown trees to shade my house, roofed with white shingles and installed ridge vent and an attic fan (solar). Just to say, we’re not feeling anywhere near cooked. My thermo is set for 16C, that’s 61F, has been for the past three winters, and we’re not frozen yet, either. Although I admit to having a nice selection of finger gloves.

      I admire the Japanese tremendously, they have done so much with scarce resources and excellent organization, well except for that little nuclear problem, and I would be happy to live like them, especially the anime, the martial arts, the food and the cat cafes. BTW, the Japanese tell ghost stories in the summer, since the shiver will make you feel cooler (stands to reason, right?) and in the olden days had removable walls and portable sun-blocking walls to keep cool in summer. Winter wasn’t considered a problem, since you could always put on another layer of clothing or sit around the kotatsu.

      And I have zero children. BTW, I believe there is a correlation betw women’s educatjion and economic independence and the number of children they have. Well, that problem, which it surely is, may be tractable.

    2. jrs

      well i’m a renter and so it seems to me more fortune than I have to have a thermostat. What are we assuming central air, well …. I’m not going to be able to afford that anytime soon.

      I cool with a window box A/C that doesn’t let you set a temperature, it’s either on or off. I heat with space heaters as the heater has never worked and the space heaters aren’t that fancy either (but I live in southern california so don’t cry for me too much for relying on space heaters). The temperature control has never been great, but the rent is semi-affordable in a building and area with no other problems.

    3. grayslady

      As Hot Flash and jrs point out, everyone’s situation is different. It’s much more difficult to stay cool in the city than in the suburbs or the country because of all the heat absorbed and reflected back by concrete and asphalt, plus the general lack of breezes. Also, the quality of the building you live in makes a difference. I took advantage of a state program for home insulation, and now am able to quite comfortably keep the temperature at 79F during the day in the summer and 65F during the day in the winter, but not everyone is so fortunate. Health issues also have to be considered. Older people are much less able to tolerate cold temperatures than younger people. Some people have breathing issues or are not able to tolerate high humidity. The bottom line is that any program needs to come up with solutions not only for the future but feasible adaptations for what people have now based on more individual circumstances than a one-size-fits-all approach.

  2. hunkerdown

    I should also note that according CARB, the 13% drop in carbon pollution since 2004 was achieved over a period in which the state economy grew 24%– a fact suggesting that addressing climate change isn’t necessarily incompatible with economic growth.

    But it’s virtual* growth, arising out of the sales of luxury-branded consumer electronics and the ongoing monetization of such intangible resources as privacy, attention, affect, culture, and human knowledge. California is not an easily generalized case.

    * Less generously, one might call it fake.

  3. Isotope_C14

    50% of Republicans don’t think there is evidence of global warming.

    This indicates to me that Democracy is pointless. You can’t let people that dumb make societal decisions.

    We tried an oligarchy of the rich its patently a failure, when can we try one where the smart run the show?

    I think I’d rather have a world with an IQ minimum (or better test) as a requirement for public service.

    1. nervos belli

      when can we try one where the smart run the show?

      As soon as you can properly define “smart”.

    2. Don Cafferty

      Using your metric, the data would suggest that Democrats are not “dumb” about climate change. The problem is they (the Democrat Party) act dumb! This data might suggest that the (Democrat) Party is not representative of what its members think about climate change which would not be a surprise to NC readers. It is possible to read/interpret too much from the data. 34% of respondents said that climate change is caused by human activity. 15% of respondents (and 35% of Republican respondents) said that the climate is not changing. In between these two metrics, there is uncertainty about the extent and cause. Assuming that there was a desire to, the level of uncertainty makes it difficult to formulate public policy.

    3. HotFlash

      Please, not a smartocracy. Decades ago, and that was after decades of life, I concluded that ‘nice’ beats ‘smart’ for who I want running things. A few examples of smart: Kissinger, Rumsfeld, the Koch Bros., HRC, Newt Gingrich, Obama, Sauron. Smart, oh yeah, but not working in the public interest. Intellect an any other tool is used in service of one’s ideology. What I would prefer, and think is necessary that followers demand of their leaders, is good will, honesty, and humility. If only there were politicians with those qualities.

    4. JBird

      Something like two thirds, or less, of Americans are Democrats and Republicans in somewhat equal numbers, so 1/2 x 1/2 is 1/4 means 1/4 of Americans are global warming denying Republicans. Add that the two parties hardcore membership is more of a hermetically socially sealed cult instead of a party’s faithful membership, and I would not despair of democracy that much. Leftists, liberals, libertarians, and conservatives are all leaving the main parties out of disgust of the corruption, lies, incompetence, extremism, and even overly simplistic ideology of both.

      1. JBird

        …1/2 x 1/2 is 1/4 means 1/4 of Americans are global warming denying Republicans

        Darn. It should read …2/3 x 1/2 x 1/2 is 16.6% which means 16.6% of Americans are global warming denying Republicans. I suck at math. Also the edit function has disappeared.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you can tell the difference in the field between a juvenile female Philadelphia vireo and a juvenile female orange crowned warbler in the Fall, then you are smart enough to get to vote.

    6. George Stubbs

      Sounds like a call for a Teddy Roosevelt solution–technocratic, scientifically expert managers can be in charge of managing resources for all. There were some positive results from this–the national parks and the US Forest Service, for example, although Gifford Pinchot’s view of our forest resources as essentially “product” needed to be countered by John Muir’s views that natural “resources” had spiritual value as well.

      This is partly the problem with the “ecoservices” movement. There is merit in putting a dollar value on bees, intact forests, tributary waters, etc., and we need people like Gretchen Daily to raise these issues, but we have to resist reductionism–that these dollar values are the end of the value discussion.

  4. The Rev Kev

    I wonder if there is a correlation between the percentage of people that believe that climate change is here and now and those that personally experience either a weather event or their insurance policies reflecting the new reality. There is a story called “This year’s global hurricane boom could go into overdrive” on today’s links so you wonder if at the end of hurricane season, that there may be an increase in percentages that believe that we are experiencing climate change. You would have to track it by those regions that actually experience severe weather this season.

    1. nervos belli

      Higher insurance premiums don’t mean squat. Not in capitalism.
      From what I understand, the average premium since ACA went up more or less significantly. Do you want to state the US has now a better healtcare system since they pay more for it?

  5. Mike Mc

    Living in a farm state in the Midwest whose economy remains largely dependent on commodity crops, climate change is increasingly undeniable.

    Earlier springs, later and warmer winters, insect pests overwintering where winter frosts used to kill them off, changing patterns of bird migrations and plants blooming – even the hardest headed farmers can’t ignore these signs and portents. Retired farmers, their wives and their kids are seeing this happening within their own lifetimes. Gardeners, landscapers, and others involved in these trades point out the changes to their customers so they can compensate accordingly.

    Serious doomers may need to thank Trump and his merry band of oligarchs, thieves and traitors for pushing Americans’ noses into the muck – goons like Pruitt and Zinke present a clear and present danger to life on Earth. (Pruitt may be gone but the GOP’s scorched earth policies remain.)

    Now that Trump’s tariff mania is putting a big dent in farm income across the USA, maybe his defenders and apologists will wake up and smell the coffee… while we still have any to brew!

    1. jrs

      Yes Trump is clearly a catastrophe for the environment (although of course the issues are larger than Trump – but he’s an arsonists in a drought ravaged forest).

      But on trade the only remotely sustainable option would be to manufacture as much locally as possible, it’s not global trade much less globalization other than maybe a few things like spices for which there have long been global trade and maybe things like information of course. But really localization not globalization is sustainable, this has limits as cities can’t be entirely sustainable as for food etc. but they don’t need to be importing most food across continents.

      1. Ed

        If Trump is sincere about the trade war with China, which granted I doubt he is, that is the best thing that any prez could do for the environment.

    2. George Stubbs

      “Thank Trump.” Point taken, but I never give credit to the bad for the good that happens in response.

  6. Wukchumni

    Here in the Central Valley which is possibly more bible belty than the other one back east, lotsa doubters still. I used to tongue wrestle with them, easily debunking their pithy talking points-that they learned from Fox news, and then I learned to act as if I was one of them, and how they gushed with excitement knowing that I too was in cahoots.

    It’s a different worldview here compared to the rest of the state. A friend works for the Tulare County planning board, and related that the major major major majordomos refer to all of the longtime
    upright standing members in the forest, as ‘Straws’, as they are shall we say, ’embezzling’ water from the farmers that need it to grow crops.

    I think a good many of them would rather prefer a barren planet…

    1. Jack Parsons

      Waha ha ha. The Central Valley has people pumping out 20,000-year-old water to grow crops. Cali ag is doomed.

  7. Wukchumni

    Have phrases the likes of say “climate change” or other terms of non endearment in regards to anything, ever been historically verboten from view in various guises of Big Gov, be it Federal or on a state level, as is happening now?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or maybe a . . . Dummyarchy?

        Or maybe a . . . Stupidarchy? Government of the Militant Stupidites?

  8. Jon S

    Go out on YouTube and search for “global cooling” if you want to see what the rubes are buying into.

  9. Rates

    Does it matter? Surely the important number is the “number of Americans doing something to ameliorate global warming reaches a new high”. Belief may or may not lead to action.

    Anyway, once we factor in future immigration from the Southern Americans, the percentage will drop quickly.


    1. Louis Fyne

      no, it doesn’t matter.

      people who otherwise would call themselves good liberals, have no problem with de facto open migration into the US and turning every newcomer into a good, all-American consuming Mega-Lo Mart patron.

      if you want to be cynical—-every new immigrant into the US (except, I think, Australians cuz of their mining activities) automatically increases the carbon footprint of the world.

      How’s that for hope and change.

  10. polecat

    Guarded optimism aside, even if everyone agreed that climate change was real, and human induced, the inputs already added to what is a highly chaotic system will have effects lasting centuries, so the seahorses are way past the barnicles at this point. We can’t stop it from happening, so mitigation, with the attendent changes in human commerce and consumption patterns will be where the action is, at least for some. But to stop the cycle of change ?? That’s a dream that simply won’t happen .. I’m not saying that’s what J-L S is implying in the above article … but it appears that is what many people think will work .. ” If we just stop X, or Xs for that matter .. than Y will go back to ‘normal’ “. Well, what IS normal where climate is concerned ??
    So have those gill genes (or blow-holes and rear flukes if that’s your circumstance) at the ready, to be switched on when evolution comes calling.

    1. Synoia

      The system is called Unstable Equilibrium.

      The Industrial Revolution, greed, has destroyed our Unstable Equilibrium. We are entering the sharply rising part of the growth or change curve.

      The heat engine initiating the change is our Civilization. Natural processes, such as methane release and desertification, will not drive the process to conclusion, proving once again that greed is the greatest sin.

      It took about 200 years to trigger the destruction of our ecosystem. The change will take about the same period, and the end of change, a new equilibrium, about the same.

      My personal tentative hypothesis is that intelligence as we know it is not an evolutionary advantage, it is an evolutionary dead end. That might also explain SETI’s lack of success in discovering other civilizations.

    2. jrs

      yea it sets in motion a lot of other changes, of course as for the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere CO2 lasts a long time but methane less, and we have pumped a massive amount of methane into the atmosphere recently.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I wonder how much skycarbon we could suck back down out of the air if we managed our landscapes and farmscapes and treescapes for more plant-growth and more soil-carbon-storage?

      Wetlands build up peat ( bio-carbon) fast. If we restored and reflooded all the drained and missing wetlands, how much skycarbon would we begin sucking down and peat-storing? Enough to matter?

  11. Arizona Slim

    What is to be done? Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m planting more trees at my place.

    I’m also weaning the Arizona Slim Ranch from fossil fuel-based power. Solar panels are now on the roof, and it is a grid-tied system. Meaning that my excess power will be fed into the grid.

      1. HotFlash

        Oooh. If I was taught correctly, I think you’ll find it gets warmer before it gets cooler. Also, not sure how you’d shovel at the centre of the earth’s gravity. But even if you don’t get that far, you’d get fossil-free heating.

        1. Wukchumni

          To be honest it was getting a little tiring, and I think i’ll stop now. Thanks for the tip.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      There is a soil-bio-researcher and bussinessman in New Mexico named Michael Melendrez. He has been studying mycorrhizae and other soil life-forms in order to maximize their management for soil-borne water retention and soil-water enhanced plant growth. He has a business with a website called Soil Secrets He claims to be able to return missing mycorrhizae to plant-soil systems and foster their growth there. Better plant and tree growth would suck down more CO2, and some of that CO2 as worked up into liquid sugars in the plant sap are injected through the roots into the soil and especially into the mycorrhizae who feed on the root juice and bring more minerals and water back to the plants to do more carbon-downsucking growth with. Here is the link.

      And here is another allied website called Meet The Owners about these same people.

      1. earthling1

        Burying bio-char into the ground is known to encourage mycorrhizae growth, retain moisture, and act as a carbon sink that lasts hundreds of years.
        The ancient Amazonians were able to feed tens of millions of people for thousands of years using “Tera Preta”, or “Black Soil” , which was manufactored from bones, fish, leaf debri, broken pottery, human waste, and bio-char.
        Deposits of these soils are still mined today and are considered extremely fertile still.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          This is a good point and a promising point of departure. Millions of gardeners have a few pounds of brush and dried out stems and vines each year at the end of gardening season. What if someone could design a super-simple and super-durable micro-retort for the little backyard gardener? Such that it could be fueled by some of that brush and stems and vines to generate heat to “char” the rest of the brush and stems and vines down to bio-char for mixing into the garden soil?

          And thinking big, what if a few million acres of corn-soy land were devoted to bio-charable woody-brush crops instead? And those brushy woody crops were sent to CHAB-units for generating heat to boil water to turn turbines to make electricity? And the bio-char were sent back to all the farms that the char-able woody brush came from to begin with? ALL the mineral fertility would STAY on those “energy + biochar” farms and SOME of the skycarbon sucked down to grow those “energy-biochar” crops to begin with would stay IN the ground and OUT of the sky every year. Those several million CHAB-unit biomass acres would be skydraining and soilstoring measurable amounts of carbon every year.

          The CHAB-unit concept is being investigated at the tiny scale . . . for heating individual greenhouses. Why not scale it up to the size of grid-relevant CHAB-unit Power Plants?

          There is a speculative company trying to figure out how to think big in just that way.

  12. Fred

    I’ve seen similar statistics. The problem is that many believe it’s a natural pattern and not caused by humans. It’s all kind of sciency stuff and complicated you know.

  13. Tomonthebeach

    Alas, the billionaire class seem to be dumber than birds.

    You would think that my old gunnery sergeant’s admonition to recruits in foxholes: “Birds don’t shit in their own nests. Are you smarter than a bird?” would be understood by billionaire tycoons why pay to convince voters that pollution is a myth.

    They foolishly think their water will always be potable, their air in the Hamptons will always be breathable, and disease only happens to to the masses; not the elites.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Inner Elites have bought and prepared hideaway fortresses for them to survive the Jackpot they are carefully engineering for the rest of us. The Inner Elites may be mingling with the Hamptons rich, but they are not the same people. When they feel Jackpot Time is upon us, they will silently disappear, leaving the Hamptons people behind.

      For example, George W. Bush bought some years ago a hundred-or-so-thousand-acre landholding in Paraguay, on top of one of the biggest aquifers in the world. The Inner Elite understand exactly what kind of hopeful-for-themselves future they are engineering. ” Its a Tiny Club. And the Hamptons are not in the Tiny Club”.;_ylt=AwrJ7JUsQE5bpuwANQVXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=Bush+buys+land+in+paraguay&fr=sfp

  14. Synoia

    Yes a record temperature of 120 deg F in Chino, CA, or 117 def F in Anaheim, CA does focus the mind

  15. Westcoastdeplorable

    I think many people like me “believe” in global warming, but DON’T believe it’s caused by Human activity. IMO THAT’S where the divergence is. We know the Earth has gone through many changes through the years; who is to say what the cause was/is? I DO think it’s foolhardy to throw money at a problem w/o knowing the bigger picture. There’s also the problem of many of the observation stations being offline and “averages” being substituted.

    1. Louis Fyne

      –I think many people like me “believe” in global warming, but DON’T believe it’s caused by Human activity–

      If I recall correctly, the scientific consensus is that 60% of the global warming is caused by human activities. So even if humans disappeared today, the planet would be warming up (but obviously not as quickly).

      So given that, each side cherry picks the data sees what they want.

      1. pretzelattack

        iirc, it’s more than 100%, because the climate would be cooling slightly if not for agw. the deniers go on cherrypicking the data they want anyway.

    2. HotFlash

      My Mamma used to say, “I don’t care who started it, I am stopping it!”

      But perhaps you have no skin in this game?

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t understand why it matters whether Climate Disruption is caused by humans or not. There’s little evidence anything will be done to stop burning petroleum and coal. Even without Climate Disruption the declines in the energy available from petroleum and coal promise a looming crisis. The great aquifers are showing signs of running low on water. The world population is growing beyond the available fresh water and food. Our Power Elites have responded by gambling that they can hand the reins to the next guy and move to a safe place before the shit hits the fan. At this point in the drama I don’t think it matters much what people believe.

      1. John Wright

        Didn’t the Club of Rome mention that some resources would get scarce, be substituted for by other relatively less scarce resources until many resources are scarce?

        Then the human population is really painted into a corner, with little flexibility.

        A crude measure of how much concern there is about the environment is the lack of popular music that mentions any concerns.

        In the 60’s some USA popular music had anti-war and pro-environment themes.

        Now that is lacking on both fronts.

        The difference between a climate change denier and climate change believer in the USA might be that the latter one feels somewhat guilty as they drive their SUV to the store.

        Here is some 2011 data from

        “North America’s massive energy diet is largely made up of hydrocarbons—a full 83 percent comes from oil, gas, and coal, and if we include nuclear energy, 91 percent comes from nonrenewable fuel sources. In 2008, North America consumed 27 percent of the world’s oil production, 25 percent of natural gas production, and 18 percent of coal production. Most of the rest of our energy consumption was derived from nuclear power and large hydropower, with renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind, photovoltaics, and geothermal making up less than 2 percent of our total. Moreover, despite a several-fold growth in non-hydropower renewable energy sources, nonrenewable sources are still forecast to supply 88 percent of our primary energy consumption by 2030.”

        I wonder about the California CO2 numbers as they may not allow for electricity generated out of state or the CA manufacturing that simply moved to another state/country with about the same CO2 footprint.

        Do they allow for all the CO2 produced by the recent CA wildfires, which may have been abetted by climate change?

        While economics is pitched as the “dismal science” it seems to be still optimistically advocating for more growth, be it in population, housing, food production and manufactured goods.

        I know people who fully believe in human caused climate change but who do not believe that anything of consequence will be done about it.

        Maybe that is a reasonable expectation of the future.

        1. jrs

          “A crude measure of how much concern there is about the environment is the lack of popular music that mentions any concerns.

          In the 60’s some USA popular music had anti-war and pro-environment themes.”

          this is most simply explained by media concentration, it’s simply not in the interest of a few large corporations to promote anything that might lead to social change. It’s not a gauge of what might be popular with a different radically decentralized media landscape. They let stuff through in the 60s that never would get through now.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I am satisfied for now that the man-made warming theory is factually supported and analytically and predictively useful. Why would I think that?

      I began reading speculative thoughts of future global warming based on excess carbon skydumping in the latest 1970s. From then to now, as “warmists” offer various predictions based on their evolving theory, these predictions have happened as predicted. More skycarbon raising the amount of retained heat moving around the earth surface-sky-ocean system, the Arctic and sub-Arctic warming up faster than the temperate and tropical zones, random occurrence of more raindump waterbomb events here and there, a general drift poleward and “upward” up mountains of ecological life zones, etc. Since the warmists predicted these events beFORE they occurred, and these events are occurring AS PREDICTED by the warmists, I am impressed with the predictive robustness of the man made global warming theory.

      Separately, carbon skydumping is driving ocean acidation, which is beginning to compromise the growth of our tastiest and most beloved seafood, to the eventual commercial detriment of those bussinesses who make money selling these seafoods. If you eat seafood, that might concern you.

  16. 4corners

    “money alone won’t protect the rich from the disastrous climate changed future that’s emerging”

    I disagree. Terms would need to be defined first, but seems to me that short of a global and/or sudden catastrophe, the rich will always be able to find comfort and security. And this is part of the problem.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I agree. I hope some members of the lower classes will be able to figure out how to survive the coming Jackpot and work on finding and killing every member of the Inner Elite who emerges from their Jackpot Bunkers after all the Jackpotting has died down.

  17. polecat

    Yeah, no problem Wukchumni. Joking aside, the way I views things is that when I look at my chickens, I see dinosaurs ad reducto, in that they evolved in various ways, as all modern dinosaurs .. physiology/biologically speaking .. into more efficient species than their dino brethren, and thus were able to avoid extinction. Whether humans are able to evolve do something similar might mean becoming, smaller, more diminutive say .. to reflect on the changes in available resources, reduced or otherwise, going forward .. or backward, as the case might be ! The Cetaceans did, and things worked out for them .. until the rise of the hominids that is ! Won’t know for some millennia though .. in retro.
    Just musing from a deep-time standpoint.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been boning up on more recent climate change inspired diasporas, and here’s one that’s a little over a century old-the Oraibi Split, which came after about 15 years of punishing drought, along with conflicts with the settlers over westernization.
      “It was on September the 8th, 1906, that it happened. We drove those hostile people from the village, out that way, and kept them gathered there. During the afternoon it was getting pretty bad. Yukioma, who was head of the Hostiles, wanted his people to stay in Oraibi. He wanted us [the Friendlies] to leave the village. So about three o’clock he made four lines on the ground and then he said, “Well, it has to be done this way now that when you pass me over these lines it will be done. We’re going to have a [push]-of-war. If you push us over [the lines] we are the ones to leave.””

    2. The Rev Kev

      Now there is a thought. In a million or so years time, will humans be the edible chicken of the race that supplants us a dominant species of this planet. As in-

      “Eat your human legs, Graaak. They’re finger-licking good!”

  18. Wukchumni

    I’ve been reading some Cambridge University Press books on various cultures that went the way of the Dodo, and the 1st one:

    Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization (Case Studies in Early Societies) by Arthur Demarest, was really good.

    I’m just getting into:

    Ancient Puebloan Southwest, by John Kantner, and it’s also a fine find.

    I reckon that as long as we acknowledge shits about to get real, why not bone up on what happened to grossly less complex civilizations, where climate change played a pivotal role in their downfall.

  19. Richard

    Jared Diamond, in his book, Collapse: Why Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, does a really good job of making just such a survey as you are describing. He includes the Maya, the Anasazi of the Southwest, and everybody from the Easter Islanders to the Greenland Norse.
    On polling, I’m sorry to have to say this, but the one’s that matter are the ones that ask how many people at election time rate the environment as their #1 issue. I can’t recall a specific one right at the moment, it’s been awhile, but I have seen them, and it’s consistently a low number.
    And let’s be bipartisan in our criticism of failures of leadership from our two major parties. Trump has not just been trying to rollback the limited measures adopted during the Obama years in regard to climate change, such as restrictions on power plants or fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. He has also been trying to savage the EPA, he or Republicans in Congress have been attacking the Endangered Species law, rolling back regulations on clean water, attacking our public lands, you name it.
    Where have the leaders of the Democratic Party been while this has been happening? Their silence is deafening. They have been doing what they do best, playing it safe.
    What’s most important about Trump, even more than what he has done, is what he is not doing. We desperately needed to have whoever was elected go beyond the measures that had already been taken in regard to climate change. I am sorry but I am just not reassured by what is happening at the state or local level or through the marketplace.
    And we need action on population growth and population size. In a non-coercive way, but in a way that faces what is inescapable reality. And we need a society that does not depend on economic growth to keep going.

  20. ChristopherJ

    More starting to believe, that’s good, albeit decades too late.

    We are in a period of abrupt, irreversible, climate change where 200 species are becoming extinct every day. Yes, every family blogging day.

    Here in Oz, PM Turnbull has said we will keep our 20 coal fired power plants operational for the rest of the plants’ useful lives – over 20 years. Because it’s cheaper than new plants ffs, nevermind the carbon emitted into our already stretched atmosphere and oceans.

    Sorry to break it to NC readers, but time to get ready, as our ability to grow grain (rice, corn, wheat) at scale is at real risk. All it will take is for a swift increase in average temps and most animal, plant, insect, aquatic and trees will not be able to cope and certainly won’t be able to adapt.

    Two years max

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