The U.S. is the world leader in climate denial

Rush Limbaugh is already taking credit

Topics: climate change denialism, United States, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch, EPA, climate skeptics, ,

The U.S. is the world leader in climate denialRush Limbaugh (Credit: Jeff Malet,

When it comes to climate-change denial, the United States is number one, new polling data from the U.K.-based market research firm Ipsos MORI reveals. It’s because we’re so much more enlightened than the rest of the world.

Not really.

Only 54 percent of Americans agree with the scientific consensus on climate change: that “the climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity.” Compare that to the next-lowest, Great Britain, with 64 percent in agreement, all the way up to China, where 93 percent agreed — almost reflecting the 97 percent consensus itself (the pollsters do note that, as the results were taken from online surveys, data may be skewed for developing countries like China and India).

Chris Mooney at Mother Jones has some interesting theories surrounding the preponderance of climate-change denial in English-speaking nations, particularly the U.S., U.K. and Australia, where the neoliberal, Rupert Murdoch-owned media is exerting its influence. Rush Limbaugh agrees: he’s already jumped to take credit for America’s ranking.

But here’s somewhere else where America comes out ahead (or, you know, behind): We’re not too concerned about the impacts of climate change. When asked whether “we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly,” Americans again tended to balk, with only 57.3 percent agreeing:

The responses reflect a trend among climate-change deniers that Will Oremus at Slate calls “climate optimism,” the idea (which also goes against mainstream science) that climate change, even if it is happening (it is), isn’t going to be so bad — and that it certainly doesn’t warrant measures such as the EPA’s recent proposal to limit carbon emissions from power plants. Seeing as how the U.S. is responsible for about 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions each year and is expected to be a leader in next year’s climate negotiations in Paris, it’s an attitude the world really can’t afford.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email

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