Desertification of Nebraska Not Enough to Convince Climate Change Deniers, Says Poll

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The tipping point that turns skeptics into believers seems nearly impossible to reach when it comes to climate change. That isn't changing anytime soon, according to the Shelton Group's new Green Living Pulse study. The poll surveyed 1,098 consumers who buy green products on occasion, and asked climate change skeptics what it would take for them to believe that climate change is real and caused by humans. Answer: even an ice-free North Pole or a dustbowl on the Great Plains barely move the needle.

The study says that 15% of skeptical respondents would be convinced by a melted polar ice cap, 15% would respond if kids should no longer go outside to play in the summer because of dangerous pollution levels, 3% would be swayed if changing weather patterns turned Nebraska into a desert, 2% would warm to the idea if there were only 20 polar bears left in the wild, and just 0.6% would be convinced if residents of America Samoa had to relocate because of rising tides.

Perhaps it's just hard to imagine future scenarios. The study also reveals that 55% of respondents have started thinking more about energy and the environment as a result of the West Virginia coal mine explosion and and the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

As those events show, it's hard to change people's minds about the environment unless something horrifying is actually occurring. Actual TV footage of dustbowl Nebraska is more powerful than trying to imagine how you'd feel about the same thing. If things get really bad, we might see the diehard SUV owners scrambling to buy tiny hybrids.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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