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How do you convince people of global warming in a snowstorm?

Criticisms of climate change science are piling up as public concern wanes. But evidence of global warming continues to accumulate.

Global warming? John Katsaros, used car sales manager at Ray Price Honda, cleans snow off cars on the lot at the dealership in East Stroudsburg, Pa. on Friday. Katsaros said there were about 400 vehicles on the lot that needed to be cleaned.

David Kidwell/Pocono Record/AP

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The dead of winter – especially this winter with its massive snow storms in the eastern United States – is not the easiest time to make the case for global warming. Short-term weather events and long-range climate change are not the same thing, of course, but it’s hard to separate them in the public’s mind.

But it’s even harder these days to convincingly argue that climate change is a reality.

“Gloomy unemployment numbers, public frustration with Washington, attacks on climate science, and mobilized opposition to national climate legislation represent a ‘perfect storm’ of events that have lowered public concerns about global warming even among the alarmed,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change.

Yale and George Mason University recently polled on the question. Since 2008, the number of people who don’t believe global warming is happening has more than doubled to 16 percent. At the same time, those “alarmed” at the prospect of climate change has dropped from 18 percent to just 10 percent, and those who say they’re “concerned” has dropped from 33 percent to 29 percent.

As often happens, shifting attitudes change the political dynamic.

At the environment web site Grist, Amanda Little writes, “Sen. James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma, one of the world’s most vociferous climate skeptics, is practically giddy these days.”


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