According to a new survey by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College, most climate change deniers base their beliefs on the local weather they themselves observe with their vastly limited, hyperlocal, puny little eyeballs.
Surveyors called more than 900 American adults in September, and found that among the few (16 percent) who believe there's no evidence of global warming, nearly two thirds said their beliefs were based to some degree on "personal observations of weather" in their area. About one in ten Americans have that belief for that reason.
The notion is about as waterproof as my saying cricket bats don't exist because there are none in my house – even though the term is in the dictionary, I've seen the sport played on TV, and scientists keep breathing down my neck about how "cricket bats totally exist, and humans made them."
(For the record, the term "climate change" is hardly used in the report on the survey results. It instead focused on "global warming" in its questioning. Though these are not synonymous, it's fair to say that only the rare individual would contest one while believing in the other).
Sadly (yes, sadly) personal observation or media consumption also played an affirming role in the views of climate change believers.
This survey has been conducted since 2008, and among Americans who do believe there was evidence of global warming, a record 61% said "severe droughts were having a very large effect on their belief."
It seems a near consensus among scientists and reams of data aren't enough. The problem has to hit home for people to get with the facts. It would be one thing for you to need information on, say, California's devastating drought to convince you that climate change is dangerous, but another for you to need it in order to accept it's happening.
The survey had some good news too, depending on where you want to set your standards for the American public. Here's the first sentence from the study:
"For the first time since 2008 at least 7 out of 10 Americans indicate that they believe there is solid evidence of global warming over the past four decades."
A majority of Republicans (56%) believe there's "solid evidence" of global warming. They join a majority of Democrats (79%) and Independents (69%).