April 30, 2008 1:01PM

The Global Warming Hysteria that Isn’t, Part II

Last week, a Gallup poll was released revealing that about one‐​third of Americans worry “a great deal” about global warming, a number that hasn’t changed much since 1989. Less than half of the respondents believed that climate change would pose a serious threat to them in their lifetimes. The trade publication ClimateWire (subscription required) quotes a Gallup official as noting that “there has been no consistent upward trend on worry about global warming going back for decades.”

Today, ClimateWire reports that a new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has even worse news for environmentalists: climate change is at the absolute bottom of the public’s list of priorities for the federal government (oddly enough, there’s no trace of the report on Pew’s website). When given a list of issues and asked to state whether the issue should be a “top priority” for President Bush and the Congress, those surveyed responded as follows:

Strengthening the nation’s economy: 75%
Defending the country against terrorism: 74%
Reducing health care costs: 69%
Improving the educational system: 66%
Securing social security: 64%
Improving the job situation: 61%
Securing Medicare: 60%
Dealing with energy problems: 59%
Reducing the budget deficit: 58%
Protecting the environment: 56%
Reducing crime: 54%
Providing insurance to the uninsured: 54%
Dealing with the problems of the poor: 51%
Dealing with illegal immigration: 51%
Reducing middle class taxes: 49%
Dealing with moral breakdown: 43%
Strengthening the military: 42%
Reducing the influence of lobbyists: 39%
Dealing with global trade: 37%
Making tax cuts permanent: 35%
Dealing with global warming: 35%

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The political strength of the environmental lobby is almost entirely based on the proposition that they represent a large number of well organized swing voters who will reward and/​or punish politicians for their position on environmental issues in general and climate change in particular. Hence, a great deal of hard work and effort goes into the Green campaign to scare hell out of politicians regarding the political risks associated with saying no to things like a cap & trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To be fair, all special interest groups have the same incentive to talk‐​up their alleged public support. Regardless, this particular political Green emporer has no clothes.