How big of a priority is global warming? Not as big as some would have you think.
That's according to a new Pew Research Center poll, in which more than 1,500 people were asked about their top priorities for elected leaders. Remember, these people were part of an electorate that put into office Barack Obama. The New York Times' Andrew Revkin recently pointed out that our new president has mentioned stabilizing climate and preventing nuclear conflict in the same breath.
So how did global warming fare in the Pew poll? Dead last, out of 20 priorities. The entire list, in order: the economy, jobs, terrorism, Social Security, education, energy, Medicare, health care, deficit reduction, health insurance, helping the poor, crime, moral decline, military, tax cuts, environment, immigration, lobbyists and trade policy -- then global warming.
Expect to hear more of that sentiment from the keynote speaker for the second International Conference on Climate Change March 8-10 in New York City.
Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, also current president of the European Union, is the author of the book Blue Planet in Green Shackles , in which he asserts that proposed global warming policies not only are unsupported by science, but that they threaten freedom and prosperity worldwide.
That's not to say all news about our changing climate should be ignored. Remember those recent stories about how the South Pole is getting colder? Well, it is -- in parts. But a new study released in the latest edition of the journal Nature has found that Antarctica overall has gotten warmer, by eight-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit, since the 1950s. Considering that Antarctica accounts for 90 percent of the world's ice, that study suggests dire implications for the world's sea levels.
Arguments continue to mount in support of both sides of the global warming debate. The sticking point is the extent to which mankind is responsible, and an increasing number of scientists agree that the plight of global warming cannot be laid solely, or even chiefly, at humans' feet.
If there's one thing in this debate that can be agreed on, it's this: There's nothing wrong with working toward a cleaner planet.