Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

83% of Americans believe Earth is warming

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Jon Krosnick, professor of communication and  political science of Stanford University, has released the latest Stanford University with Ipsos and Reuters survey on public opinion on global warming. 5 out of 6 Americans (83%) believe Earth is warming, 15% say it is not. That is up from 75% in 2010.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of Republicans believe global warming has been happening, as do 92% of Democrats. The percentage of Americans who are certain that warming has been happening has also climbed, from 45% to 53%. Those who do not believe in global warming have become more resolute in their attitude (certainty from 35% in 2010 to 53% in 2011).

A large majority (71%) believe that if warming has been happening, it has been caused either partly (45%) or mostly (27%) by things people have been doing. 27% believe warming to be the result of natural causes. 37% of Democrats believe global warming is the result primarily of human action, while only 14% of Republicans believe this. Conversely, 43% of Republicans believe global warming is the result of natural causes, up from 35% in 2010. Self-identified Tea Party members display still more certainty (49%) that global warming is caused by natural events.

A similar majority of Americans (72%) expect the world’s temperature to continue rising over the next 100 years if nothing is done to prevent it. Democrats are much more likely to believe in global warming’s continued impact (88%) compared to Republicans (57%) or Tea Party members (49%).

Main points can be found here (pdf). The US results are similar to those being obtained in Australia for 2010. The interim report from that study can be downloaded here.

The polarisation of climate change affecting US politics was reported in the New Scientist recently. Republican presidential hopefuls were defining themselves over science/anti-science positions. But work by Krosnick suggests that a greener president is favoured by voters.

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Written by Roger Jones

September 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm

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