Global Warming a Problem? 70 Percent of Americans Say 'Yes'

June 08, 2009

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today, which is entitled "Global Warming a Problem? 70 Percent of Americans Say 'Yes.'" It covers the results of a new study about what Americans believe about global warming. The study divides Americans into six different groups and explores the thoughts and demographics of each one.


  1. Wow Brian,

    That's probably the most "spin" I've ever seen you put on an article (and statistics). The 70% includes cautious, which clearly include people who aren't convinced. I would be able to fit in the cautious category and so would most who think more research needs to be done before we go hiking taxes.

    What's most interesting to me is how you claim that "only...18%" are "doubtful" or "dismissive" (indicating a negative connotation), while earlier you positively asserted that 18% are alarmed. That clearly communicates bias, and that's not what journalists are supposed to do Brian. You know that.

    Usually I can't complain about your articles, but this one was not up to your standards.

  2. D.R.: Sorry you feel that way. If your complaint about the 70% is the title, I didn't write that. At every place I have written for I have found that the title is the most likely to be edited. In the article I break down the categories and the levels more carefully. I even noted in the piece that the "cap and trade" proposals found little support in any group.

    As for your quibble about 18%, I really don't see your point. I did not say that 18% for the alarmed was positive (are you sure your bias didn't impact your reading ability?). I did say "only" for the other two because that is a small group. Likewise, one could say that "only" 18% are alarmed. However, you are not comparing apples to apples here because one group of 18% is two categories and the other one is one. If you want to compare the alarmed with their opposites, then you get 18% to (only) 7%. If you want to compare the two groups on each side, you get 51% to (only) 18%. The bias is not in my reporting but in the American people.

  3. Brian,

    I am glad to know you didn't write the title, though I would suggest (and I think there's plenty that can back this up - at least from past articles) that ED is certainly biased in the way it reports "facts."

    As for your comments about the use of the word "only", I don't see the categories as having anything to do with your analysis - you put the two together and then qualified them as "only" - not the study - thus you went further than reporting the facts - you analyzed them and did so in a negative light (again pointing out that "only" 1 in 5 have this position).

    Additionally, I think the more interesting thing in all of this is that it clearly shows that there is a 51% to 49% split in this country over global warming - something you neglected to bring up.

  4. D.R.: For the record, there is no such thing as a non-biased media or journalist. The goal is to be fair (and I do try in my articles) but none of us can completely shed our own beliefs.

    That being said, you are really off-base here. I can't believe you are making such a big deal of the "only." It is a true statement. 18% is a small segment of the population. While the report does not use "only" to describe the two categories it uses "only" a lot of times to describe percentages even bigger than 18% (and used "only" to describe the 7% who make up the dismissive category). My usage, therefore, is quite standard and fits the tone of the report. If you are upset by the groups seeming small, that is because they are and not because I've tried to make them that way.

    But then you go and prove that the real problem here is your bias. You are perceiving a bias in my article because your own bias is keeping you from reading very well. That was obvious when you claimed the real story should be a 51-49 split. I "neglected" to bring that up because it's not true. Now if that were actually true, it would be a story. But there is no way you can accurately read that from the study. There is no way you can put the "cautious" in the group that does not believe in global warming. Here is what the report says on page 4 (which I quoted in my article): "The Cautious also believe that global warming is a problem, although they are less certain that it is happening than the Alarmed or the Concerned; they don't view it as a personal threat, and don't feel a sense of urgency to deal with it." They believe global warming is a problem! That is how you get the 70%. Additionally, it would not even be accurate to put the "disengaged" in either group since they are not paying attention and have not really made up their mind. Thus, the fact is that most Americans believe global warming is a problem, although there are significant differences on to how big of a problem, what is causing it, and how to respond.