Two reports crossed my desk this week that, together, made me wonder if we’re finally nearing the tipping point on climate change belief in the United States. First, Yale and George Mason released Climate Change in the American Mind. The report shows that almost 75% of Americans think global warming is happening and more than 50% are very sure that it’s happening. More than 60% of Americans think it’s mostly caused by human activity.
Although there is concern that some of the increase is simply variation in the numbers among Republicans, based on whether the Denier-in-Chief has been fulminating recently, these data are consistent with my general sense that the evidence is just getting too overwhelming – part of that evidence being, of course, that more Americans are seeing first-hand the impact of extreme weather events, and there are just too many of them, in too many different contexts, to say that they are all just random events.
The second piece of evidence was the Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense. Apparently, President Trump is too busy to notice that our military is quite concerned about the impact of climate change on DOD facilities and operations. The summary is a bland, sobering, military-speak document that makes clear just how severely climate change will affect DOD. About two-thirds of 79 facilities that DOD examined are currently vulnerable to current or future flooding and more than half are vulnerable to current or future drought.
Here’s hoping that history will look back and say that, somewhere around 2019-2020, public belief in anthropogenic climate change became commonplace, and denial – in the public debate as well as the scientific debate – became the realm of cranks.