Poll: American opinion on climate change warms up

June 8, 2010

Public concern about global warming is once again on the rise, according to a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities. The results come as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this week on a resolution to block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Since January, public belief that is happening rose four points, to 61 percent, while belief that it is caused mostly by human activities rose three points, to 50 percent. The number of Americans who worry about global warming rose three points, to 53 percent. And the number of Americans who said that the issue is personally important to them rose five points, to 63 percent.

"The stabilization and slight rebound in public opinion is occurring amid signs the economy is starting to recover, along with consumer confidence, and as memories of unusual snowstorms and scientific scandals recede," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. "The BP oil disaster is also reminding the public of the dark side of dependence on fossil fuels, which may be increasing support for clean energy policies."

Americans who said President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority increased 11 points, to 71 percent, while those who said that global warming should be a high priority rose six points, to 44 percent. In a seven-point increase since January, 69 percent of Americans said that the United States should make a large or medium effort to reduce global warming even if it incurs large or moderate economic costs.

Current public support for specific policy options (and changes since January, 2010) include:

  • 77 percent support regulating as a pollutant (+6)
  • 87 percent support funding more research into (+2)
  • 83 percent support tax rebates for people who buy fuel-efficient vehicles and solar panels (+1)
  • 65 percent support signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 (+4)
  • 61 percent support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 per year (+2)
  • Support for expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast fell to 62 percent (-5)
"More than seven out of 10 Americans say the United States should take action to power our nation with clean energy," said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Communication at George Mason University. "Even more Americans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including 64 percent of Republicans."

Explore further: Americans consider global warming an urgent threat, according to poll

More information: Copies of the reports can be downloaded from: www.climatechangecommunication.org/resources_reports.cfm

Related Stories

American opinion cools on global warming

January 27, 2010

Public concern about global warming has dropped sharply since the fall of 2008, according to a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities.

Americans favor conservation, but few practice it

February 16, 2010

Most Americans like the idea of conservation, but few practice it in their everyday lives, according to the results of a national survey released today by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities.

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
3 / 5 (7) Jun 08, 2010
Public concerns about global probably rise in warmer months and decline in cooler months.

Unless this seasonal effect is subtracted out, there is little or no meaning to a report that public opinion on climate warming is rising or falling.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010
My very first class on statistics discussed removing the periodic effects of the seasons from any sort of data. But when raw data, particularly sensitive numbers like poll numbers are published like this one, they simply cannot be adjusted unless the adjustment is described.

I believe that the quote by 'Anthony Leiserowitz' covered that ground nicely. Keep in mind however, that this is an opinion not backed up in any way by the article.
Caliban
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 08, 2010
Good point, gentleman.

On the other hand, how do you go about correcting opinion polls for the promulgation of deliberate misrepresentation, as in the case of an AGW denialist like Lord Christopher Monckton, whose presentation to an audience at Bethel University(MN) last October(and, one presumes, thence to YouTube, et al), "debunking" AGW science, and subsequently dissected by John Abraham, and exposed as pure disinformation:

http://www.stthom...abraham/

A real eye-opener, to be sure- but what about all the people who would accept Monckton's whole cloth, and then express their belief that AGW is fiction, based upon Monckton's deliberate deceit?
How do you correct those polling results?
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2010
More of a political article I think...unless anyone here thinks that if there were a poll that showed 50% of Americans didn't believe in gravity we'd all suddenly get lighter.

Was there some science in that article that I missed?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.