An Exploratory Investigation of the Public's Attitude on the Effects of Global Warming: The Media's Role in Influencing Opinions as Moderated by Having Lived Through a Major Storm

While the debate over changing global weather patterns and the negative role mankind plays in altering the earth’s climate continues to rage, there appears to be no real movement in the views of entrenched participants on either side of the argument, or, for that matter, in the culture at large (Whitmarsh 2011). Even though global warming advocates claim the debate is now “settled science” and that a consensus of climatologists has emerged indicting mankind as one of the prime culprits in changing global climate patterns, an equally compelling argument has been made that naturally occurring phenomenon (e.g., such as volcanic activity, ocean currents, El Nino, and solar cycles, etc.) explain more of the earth’s current weather patterns than the relatively small impact man exerts on the climate through agricultural and manufacturing practices. Although a quick perusal of environmentalist oriented websites is likely to suggest that a majority of Americans currently view the issue as posing a threat to the earth and their own future safety (see attached Bibliography website citations) a Washington Post/ABC news poll conducted in January 2013 indicated that slightly under 34% of Americans believed global warming posed a true threat to mankind’s survival in their lifetime. The same poll indicated manmade global warming (henceforth referred to as MGW) ranked last among a list of urgent issues, and, that a majority had lost trust in the predictions of climate scientists. Not incidentally, poll results tended to be split along political party lines, suggesting that the issue is heavily influenced by one’s political worldview (Montgomery and Stone 2009)