By now, it’s already deep election season, the beginning of the culmination of a cycle that commenced the day after (or even the day before) the previous presidential election. In the meantime, the endless polls appear — you can check Obama’s approval rating or the state of the presidential horserace any time, night or day — and the media goes ballistic handicapping the odds or discussing the presidential cat fight. Each side’s handlers take out after the other’s, and increasingly, the corporate dollars pour in (another form of handicapping, or maybe just plain old knee-capping). You know the routine. These days, with the election a mere six months away, Romney/Obama “analysis” and prediction is already in the stratosphere and no issue, from war to a blind self-taught Chinese lawyer escaping to the American embassy in Beijing, is election-proof.
It’s all grist for the mill and who in Washington isn’t reading the polls the way a New Ager might read Tarot cards? So when President Obama suddenly starts talking — quite voluntarily — about global warming as a campaign issue, you know something’s up. What’s up, it turns out, is public concern over climate change after years of polling in which Americans claimed to be ever less worried about the phenomenon.
No one should be surprised, given this overheated year in North America, as Bill McKibben points out in today’s post. In fact, in the latest climate-change polling, 63% of respondents believe “the United States should move forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do.” In another recent poll, 65% of Americans backed the idea of “imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases” (as 75% now support regulating carbon dioxide as a “pollutant”).
This is something new in America. Times, like the weather, are evidently a-changin’. And the president has noticed this, especially since he’s facing an opponent who, last fall, went on the record this way: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”