Today the American Association for the Advancement of Science published a 20-page report, "What We Know" summing up the scientific consensus on the reality and urgency of climate change. The scientific panel explained that "about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening."
The scientists stress that we are feeling the effects now:
Recent scientific findings indicate that climate change is likely responsible for the increase in the intensity of many of these [extreme weather] events in recent years ... . Greenhouse gases have supercharged the climate just as steroids supercharged hitting in Major League Baseball. Over the course of a baseball season in the steroid era, we witnessed more – and longer – homers, even though we cannot attribute any specific homer to steroids. Similarly, even though we cannot attribute any particular weather event to climate change, some types of extreme events such as heat waves are now more frequent.
The good news is that most Americans already understand the science.
Earlier this month, Gallup released its annual environmental poll which showed 65 percent of Americans believe "the effects of global warming" are happening today or will during their lifetimes.
That is true for 83 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents.
But Republicans ... for them only 42 percent accept the reality of global warming.
As you can see, outright climate science denial is limited to a small minority on the right. So why has been political action on climate been so hard to muster?
Because only 36 percent say "global warming will pose a serious threat" in their lifetimes.
In other words, about three of every 10 Americans believe global warming is real, but don't believe it's going to hurt them personally. And many of those people are Democrats and independents, not just Republicans.
We don't need to convince the far right to accept reality. We need to convince the political middle that reality is coming sooner than they think.