In a New York Times/Sienna College Research Institute poll this month, only 1 percent of participants said that the most important problem facing the country today is climate change. Twenty percent of those polled, the highest percentage, said that the economy (including jobs and the stock market) was the greatest problem, and 15 percent said that inflation and the cost of living were their greatest concern.
Republicans were the demographic most likely to name the economy as their top priority, at 29 percent, with Hispanics right behind them at 28 percent. In comparison, exactly 0 percent of Hispanics said that climate change was at the top of their list of pressing problems. These numbers grow in significance when you consider that major heat waves had just struck much of the country around the time the poll was conducted.
Ten days after finishing the poll, The New York Times commented on these numbers, displaying some confusion at such low numbers of the public’s concern for an issue they describe as widespread and catastrophic. “Even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue,” the Times reported, “that figure was 3 percent.”
Their only explanation was that people are distracted from significant issues like climate change by the daily economic issues that eat into their pocketbooks. The Times quoted former Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo from South Florida, saying, “In healthier economic times, it’s easier to focus on issues like this [climate change]. Once people get desperate, all that goes out the window.”
Despite spending the entire first half of the article outlining a supposed “climate crisis” occurring throughout the country, the Times quoted Curbelo noting that these crises are not things that “most people” face every day, while issues like inflation are readily apparent to anyone who pulls up to the gas pump.