American Opinion Continues to Change on Climate Change

A new study by researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities shows an uptick in public conern about global warming.

[social_buttons]The study comes at a time when the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on a resolution to block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant as well as the crisis taking place in the Gulf of Mexico.

“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.”

The survey was conducted during May 13 to June 1 covering 1,024 American adults. Results were compared to the same questions asked in a report released January 2010 and November 2008.

A total of 61% of respondents responded that they believed global warming was happening, compared to 57% in the January report. However both these numbers are much lower than November 2008 which saw 71% of respondents claiming global warming was happening.

As for whether the people were sure of their opinion, that’s an entirely different matter. 20% replied they were extremely sure while another 77% replied they were either very sure or somewhat sure. It’s not the resounding reply that is needed for any significant change to take place. A similar percentage of people responded the opposite, with 75% of those who said global warming wasn’t happening saying they were either very or somewhat sure.

50% of respondents believed that global warming was happening as a result of mostly human activities, up 3 points from January 2010 and down 7 points from November 2008. 34% believe that it is happening as a result of natural changes in the environment.

More encouraging was the uptick in respondents who said that President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority, which rose 11 points to 71%.

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

  • 77 percent support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (+6)
  • 87 percent support funding more research into renewable energy sources (+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 Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. “Even more Americans support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including 64 percent of Republicans.”

Source: George Mason University

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