Poll:Americans see Global Warming as big problem

A poll Friday conducted for USA TODAY concluded that three of five people say global warming is a very serious global problem, and two of three say it will hurt future generations either a lot or a great deal if nothing is done to reduce it, according to the poll of 801 U.S. adults done in conjunction with Stanford University and Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan research group, which funded the research.

Also notable: 71 percent say they see the effects of global warming, and 28 percent say it made the damage from last year’s Superstorm Sandy “much worse,” though 41 percent say it had no effect.

The poll finds 55 percent of Americans back a government limit on power plant emissions — down slightly from 61 percent in 2006. Twenty-one percent say it’s a “good idea” to get electricity from coal. Among emission-free energy sources, solar and wind are the most popular, while nuclear power gets mixed reviews.

A rising share of Americans are reticent about government regulations and prefer that government “stay out of the way entirely.” On limiting emissions from power plants, for example, 21 percent say the government should not get involved at all, compared to 11 percent in 2006.

Stephen Ansolabehere, government professor at Harvard University, says that shift may be due to a decline in the public’s confidence in the U.S. government (Wendy Koch, USA TODAY, Dec. 20). — HG

Temperatures are rising !

The average temperature of the Earth’s surface increased by about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) over the past 100 years, with about 1.0 °F (0.6 °C) of this warming occurring over just the past three decades (NRC, 2011). The principal driving force behind the rising temperature is the release of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. From 1751 to 2012, about 386 Gt of carbon (1,415 Gt CO2) were released to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement production. Recent annual global rates of emission are about 9 to 10 Gt of carbon (34 Gt of carbon dioxide) per year (Boden et al., 2012).