Belief in Global Warming Waning

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One of six possible profile "badges" from KQED's Matter of Degree Facebook survey

The percentage of Americans who believe that global warming is not happening has doubled since 2008, climbing from eight to 16 percent of the adult population, according to a new report from Yale and George Mason Universities.  (The full report is available as a PDF on the Yale Project on Climate Change website.)

More than 1,000 adults were surveyed in late December and early January, and their responses compared with results from a similar survey in the fall of 2008.  Called “Global Warming’s Six Americas,” the study identifies six “types” of attitudes about climate change ranging from “Alarmed” to “Dismissive” (see diagram, below).

The updated research  finds that while the percentage of “Dismissives” is growing, the proportion of  people at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Alarmed, is shrinking.  The percentage of Americans who believe that climate change is real, is caused by humans, and is an immediate threat, has dropped to 10 percent of the population, down from 18 percent in 2008. The survey group described as “Concerned” has, however grown slightly, and the “Disengaged” portion has halved, which would seem to indicate more people staking out positions on one side or the other.

Study author and director of the Yale Project on Climate Change, Anthony Leiserowitz, cited “gloomy unemployment numbers, public frustration with Washington, attacks on climate science, and mobilized opposition to national climate legislation” as contributing to diminished public concerns about global warming.

As we reported earlier this month, despite a drop in concern about climate change, majorities in all six groups say that developing sources of clean energy should be a priority for the US government.

To see which of the “Six Americas” resonates most with your viewpoint, take our climate survey, A Matter of Degree, which was developed in collaboration with the Yale Project on Climate Change and the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason Univeristy.  It’s available on the Climate Watch website and on Facebook.

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Graph from Global Warming's Six Americas, January 2010

  • James Mayeau

    Cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive, add up to 62%, while alarmed and concerned add up to 39.

    This is a vivid example of the maths we have come to expect from climate science.

    “gloomy unemployment numbers, public frustration with Washington, attacks on climate science, and mobilized opposition to national climate legislation”

    That’s funny, because the usual procedure is a hypothesis is presented then vigorously attacked to see if it holds water. Climate science seems to have excaped step two, proceeding right to policy.

  • Dixon Cruickshank

    SHOCKED just can’t believe it

    although it also looks like concerned dropped also – maybe I can’t see the numbers right but 29% is usually thought to be lower than 33%

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