The more that a person thinks he understands it, the less true his beliefs about it actually are.
Whereas belief in the human causation of global warming is overwhelmingly high among the scientists who specialize in the subject, belief in it decreases among the U.S. public to the extent that a member of the public feels confident that he or she understands it.
Among the general public, it's the people who don't feel confident about their understanding of the issue, who are in the most agreement with the scientists about it. Almost all of this latter group are Democrats. Almost all of the Republicans surveyed feel confident that they understand the issue, and they strongly disagree with the scientists about it.
Gallup headlined on March 18th, "A Steady 57% in U.S. Blame Humans for Global Warming," and noted that "Leading climate science researchers in the U.S. and globally -- including those at the International Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body that is at the forefront of climate research -- are convinced that elevated levels of carbon dioxide and other byproducts of fossil fuel use are the reason the Earth's temperature has warmed." But that's actually an understatement by Gallup, since more than 97% of the world's climatologists say that those carbon gases, which are given off by humans' burning of carbon-based fuels, are causing this planet's temperatures to rise over the long term, as those carbon gases accumulate in the atmosphere and also block the heat from being radiated back into outer space.
Gallup found that whereas 47% of Americans who say they understand the issue of global warming "Very well" think that it's "caused by the effects of pollution from human activities," 62% of those who feel they understand it only "Fairly well" do; and 59% of those who feel they understand it "Not well" do. So: the less confident people tend the most to be the ones who agree with the overwhelming scientific consensus, and the most confident people tend the most to disagree with the scientists.
Furthermore, only 41% of Republicans believe that the rise in the Earth's temperature in the last century is due mainly to human activities. But 79% of Democrats do.
In short: Republicans are more confident about the issue, but also more false in their beliefs about it.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010 , and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity .
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