New results from a long-running public opinion survey show that about 1 in 3 Americans is now “alarmed” by global warming. Is it any wonder, given the horrific onslaught of fires, floods, heat waves and other climate disasters we’ve experienced in the last year alone?
The shift in public opinion is surely being driven by experience. A recent Washington Post analysis found that more than 40% of Americans live in a county that was hit by climate-related disasters in 2021—extremes that will get worse as the greenhouse gas-fueled rise in temperatures continues.
But what should alarm us even more is how out of step our government remains with Americans’ fast-evolving views on climate change, and how little state and federal leaders have done in the face of an escalating emergency. Instead of acting decisively to slash emissions, switch to renewable energy and phase out fossil fuel production, our government is still stuck in the mud, even as U.S. greenhouse gas emissions roar back after a pandemic-induced lull.
We are running out of time to avert catastrophic warming and we can’t allow dawdling and weak-kneed politicians to jeopardize our future with inaction and half-measures that are increasingly at odds with public opinion and reality. Leaders must stop treating the destruction of the planet as one pet issue among many. It is the defining threat of our time, and they should be jolted into action.