The percentage of Americans who think there’s serious evidence of global warming has dropped precipitously in the past 18 months—from 71% to 57%, the Pew Research Center finds. Numbers were down across the political spectrum—Democrat, independent, Republican—but the drop was most pronounced among independents, to 53% from 75%. And just 35% now say climate change is a serious problem, down from 41% in April 2008.
“The public is just not as focused on global warming and environmental [issues] as they have been in the past,” a Pew executive tells the Guardian, speculating that the economic crisis and debate over health reform have sapped attention. Chris Good, in the Atlantic, thinks the issue has become more politicized this year as a cap-and-trade bill passed the House, but doubts that accounts for such a huge drop.