Poll: US belief in warming rises with thermometer

Feb 28, 2012 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer
In this Feb. 5, 2012 file photo, people walk in the South Chagrin Reservation Metropark on a sunny and mild afternoon in Bentleyville, Ohio. A new poll shows Americans' belief in global warming is on the rise, along with temperatures and surprising weather changes. The survey by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College says 62 percent of those asked last December think the Earth is getting warmer. That's an increase from 55 percent in the spring of that year. It's the highest percentage in two years. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

(AP) -- Americans' belief in global warming is on the rise, along with temperatures and surprising weather changes, according to a new university poll.

The survey by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College says 62 percent of those asked last December think the Earth is getting warmer. That's up from 55 percent in the spring of that year and 58 percent in December 2010. It's the highest proportion in two years.

Nearly half the people who say they believe in global warming base that on personal observations of the weather. Climate researchers say that's reaching the correct conclusion for reasons that aren't quite right.

When asked an open-ended question about why they thought the Earth was warming, one-quarter of those surveyed pointed to temperatures they experience and another quarter cited other weather changes. One in 7 mentioned melting glaciers and polar sea ice, and 1 in 8 noted media coverage. Only 8 percent mentioned scientific research.

"It seems to be driven by an increased connection that the public is making between what they see in terms of weather conditions and climate change," said Chris Borick, the director Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

The poll was conducted from Dec. 4 to Dec. 21, after the U.S. experienced a record 14 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011, including killer tornadoes, an unusual northeastern hurricane, a devastating southwestern drought and floods along major rivers.

At the same time, this poll was done before the official start of winter, so people were not yet affected by what has been a mild season for many regions.

Borick said that after the previous two winters, which were quite snowy, belief in global warming dropped dramatically. So he says the findings from a fresh poll to be done in upcoming weeks may again reflect views based on the latest weather trend.

Climate scientists say daily local weather isn't evidence of climate change. But they also say long-term climate change is so dramatic that people recognize and experience it.

"I'm pleased that Americans believe in thermometers," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver. "People feel confident about what they personally experience. They mix up the difference between weather and climate. It's not unexpected. It's human nature."

While it is a misconception to think that every short-term extreme weather event - like a flood or drought - is caused by climate change, a warming world does make such events more frequent, Weaver said.

NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt called strange daily weather "the visceral experience of climate" for people.

Earlier versions of the Michigan and Muhlenberg survey showed that Americans' belief in global warming peaked in December 2008 with 72 percent.

In the most recent survey, 78 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans said they thought there was "solid evidence" of climate change. Of those who didn't believe climate change was occurring, 81 percent thought that scientists were overstating the evidence for their own interest.

The survey of 887 people has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The findings are similar to other recent polls, including a 2010 AP-Stanford University Poll showing 3 out of 4 Americans thought global temperatures were going up, said Stanford poll chief Jon Krosnick. That survey, too, indicated local weather affected people's views about climate change.

Explore further: Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

More information: Survey posted on Brookings Institution website: http://bit.ly/wuKdd8

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extremity
2.4 / 5 (8) Feb 28, 2012
Its good to see that global warming opinion polls are up on a hot year. But this poll seems pointless. There are core samples from geological sources, glaciers, the arctic, and other places that all show we have ups and downs and the Earth goes through hot and cold phases. We just so happen to be going through a hot phase. The real questions which was skillfully avoided in the article here, is as to whether people think this warming is occurring naturally or unnaturally, are we going through the normal cycle or have we reached warm temperatures sooner than we otherwise would have due to man-made industry. We don't know. I mean, they are finding ancient flora and fauna remains on the ground underneath meters of ice and permafrost in the arctic and under the ice caps. Which means, it wasn't always covered in ice, and had conditions favorable enough to have flora. And current shorelines were once under water. People won't believe it until we have global cooling thousands of years from now
Vendicar_Decarian
3.9 / 5 (8) Feb 28, 2012
True. This warming "phase" is essentially permanent and the result of vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.

"We just so happen to be going through a hot phase. " - ExtremiTard

What aspect of CO2 absorbing Infrared Radiation and re-emitting half of it back down toward the ground, don't you understand? Tard Boy.

By the way... What happened to last year's denialist claim that the observed warming was all due to the cooling sun?

rwinners
5 / 5 (2) Feb 28, 2012
To me, the primary indicator is the extremes of weather, not the temperature.
Howhot
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 28, 2012
Hummm. All I know is that locally temperatures have been abnormally high over the entire USA this winter. Italia was covered in snow this winter. What can be concluded from that is a large atmospheric effect pushed the typical US weather east.

A textbook example of Global Warming.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Feb 29, 2012
Hummm. All I know is that locally temperatures have been abnormally high over the entire USA this winter. Italia was covered in snow this winter. What can be concluded from that is a large atmospheric effect pushed the typical US weather east.

A textbook example of Global Warming.

Oh gee, Europe had a few weeks of snow packs. Its supposed to last months. Not a few weeks.

In my country the warming trend was visible a decade ago because we live in a sea climate. Normal winter is lots of snow for months. But we were lucky to even see snow for a few weeks ( /-) this year.
leryss
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 29, 2012
The real questions which was skillfully avoided in the article here, is as to whether people think this warming is occurring naturally or unnaturally, are we going through the normal cycle or have we reached warm temperatures sooner than we otherwise would have due to man-made industry. [img]http://www.bosin.info/g.gif[/img]
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Feb 29, 2012
The real questions which was skillfully avoided in the article here, is as to whether people think this warming is occurring naturally or unnaturally, are we going through the normal cycle or have we reached warm temperatures sooner than we otherwise would have due to man-made industry. [img]http://www.bosin.info/g.gif[/img]

Its a mix of both, we are in the beginning of a solar maximum.
The methane and CO2 our actions put out in the atmosphere enhance the increased solar activity. I fear when the sun leaves solar maximum the heat might not leave our atmosphere because of the warm blanket in our atmosphere.
Birger
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 29, 2012
The crux is that warming in some regions can offset jet streams, creating cooler weather in other regions.
You have to see the whole picture, with long-term trends across the whole world.
alfie_null
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
My sense is that the amount of strongly worded anti content posted to this site has been going down, say, over the last year or so. It would be interesting to track the activity level of outspoken global warming opponents in a larger scope. As the pundits quiet down, or shift to other causes, perhaps so do the opinions of people in general change.
rubberman
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2012
My sense is that the amount of strongly worded anti content posted to this site has been going down, say, over the last year or so. It would be interesting to track the activity level of outspoken global warming opponents in a larger scope. As the pundits quiet down, or shift to other causes, perhaps so do the opinions of people in general change.


They're still here, but only the chronic denialists still attempt to post. When there is a mountain of evidence against you and all you have is either a misinformed opinion or an agenda that doesn't agree with the evidence, you look pretty stupid trying to pedal it to intelligent people who know better...
tinmanpo
5 / 5 (1) Feb 29, 2012
"I'm just getting warmed up."--Mother Earth
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Feb 29, 2012
"My sense is that the amount of strongly worded anti content posted to this site has been going down, say, over the last year or so" - Alfie

Yup. Since I arrived.
Tausch
5 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2012
Arrival is one's designation.
After arrival there is nothing...to do.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 03, 2012
But the AGWites claim weather doesn't matter. Especially when it doesn't support their faith.
But I am sure AGW propagandists will take whatever they can get.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2012
No, Climatologists claim that weather is not climate.

And they are right.

"But the AGWites claim weather doesn't matter." - RyggTard

You on the other hand, are just a Randite fool.

And you still haven't told us why your hero - Ayn Rand - decided to become an American Welfare Queen.

Why do you refuse to answer Tard Boy?

ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 03, 2012
Hansen:
"Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3 it is nearly certain that they would not have occurred in the absence of global warming."
http://www.columb...Dice.pdf
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2012
Very true

"Thus there is no need to equivocate about the summer heat waves in Texas in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, which exceeded 3 it is nearly certain that they would not have occurred in the absence of global warming." - Hansen

The probability of the occurrence of such extreme weather events increases as the global climate warms.

Poor RyggTard. He just ain't got enough brain cells to understand.

And that is why he is a Libertarian/Randite.

By the way RyggTard. You still haven't told us why your hero Ayn Rand decided to become a welfare queen when she needed medical care.

extremity
5 / 5 (1) Mar 05, 2012
Vendicar, Sorry for the delayed response, I don't troll as hard as you.

And just exactly what part of my first post in any way claim any sort of disregard or ignorance to atmospheric absorption of infrared radiation. None, I did not mention it because that's not the point I was making and its totally outside the conversation. I am simply stating facts of data analysis of core samples taken and fossils available. I apologize that people are generally dislike they are going to be displaced from coastal regions someday because of the Earth's natural processes. But that is just the way things are.

As I said before, and sticking to my point. Life existed with no polar ice caps before. Current shorelines used to be part of the underwater environment. And, if the Earth is cycling, then guess what, it will some day return to that state.

Oh, and I would like to see a link to this supposed post I made last year that doesn't seem to exist. Even though it has nothing to do with this.