Global Warming Questioned amid Japan Quake, Tsunami

As the Japan earthquake and tsunami ignite talks of global warming, a recently released Gallup poll indicates a growing number of Americans believe the warnings about Global warming are exaggerated.

Soldiers of Japan Self Defense Forces rescue a tsunami victim from a flooded area in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011.
Soldiers of Japan Self Defense Forces rescue a tsunami victim from a flooded area in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011. | (Photo: AP/Kyodo News)

According to the poll, the number of Americans who believe global warming is an overstated issue has grown from 30 percent in 2000 to now 41 percent. The poll was based on telephone interview with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 5-8, 2009.

Nick Loris, a policy analyst for the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, says the change in the public opinion is likely tied to the status of the economy. "It's a shift in priorities," he explains.

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According to Loris, the global warming grew to popularity in the wake of Al Gore's 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth."

"It was a time when Katrina was high in people's mind," Loris said.

He also added that the majority of Americans are primarily concerned with the struggling economy. "People recognize there is a huge economic cost for [environmental policy with] low environmental benefits, and they're not having it," he stated.

Sixty-six percent of Republicans believe that global warming coverage in the media is exaggerated. Additionally, 44 percent of Independents and 22 percent of Democrats believed also share similar views.

Conservatives have long criticized global warming theories. In 2008, evangelicals came together to argue that there was no hard evidence to support the level of environmental damage from climate change, as suggested in mainstream media.

According to the BBC, in its year-end coverage, the 2009 death toll for international natural disasters was at about 10,000 compared to an average of 75,000 in the past 10 years.

Loris acknowledges that the latest natural events would lead some to reconsider global warming. However, he states that climate change and global warming are not linked together.

"People link together global warming and climate change," he said. "Those are two separate issues."

Dan Weiss, the director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress, also shares Loris' view. The Daily Caller quoted Weiss as saying, "I have never heard of a link between global warming and earthquakes."

Also the Daily Caller reported that the European Economic and Social Committee President Staffan Nilsson issued a statement calling for solidarity in tackling the global warming.

"Some islands affected by climate change have been hit," Nilsson reportedly stated. "Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity - not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming?"

A search of the EESC's website reveals that the committee may have since changed its statement.

Over Twitter, users voiced their concern for global warming shortly after the deadly 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan

A user identified as "DanFranklin" wrote, "Never really believed all this global warming talk but after earthquake in [New Zealand] and today in Japan, Maybe we've ruined the world."

Another individual tweeted, "2 hours of geography earlier talking about Japan has left me thinking…maybe global warming is way more serious than we thought."

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