Gallup: A Drop in Concern over Warming

Emily Coven

Photo: Emily Coven

Another day, another poll showing that fewer Americans believe climate change is real.

Results from the latest Gallup Social Series Environment poll show that concern about global warming continues to wane, in some areas dipping to levels as low as when Gallup first started surveying about climate change in 1997.  The poll was conducted last week (between March 4 and March 7) and included responses from telephone interviews (land lines and cell phones) with 1,014 individuals 18 and older.

Key results include:

  • 19 percent say that effects of climate change “will never happen.” That compares with 16 percent last year and a low of 7 percent in 2001.
  • Almost half of Americans say most scientists are either unsure if global warming is happening (36 percent) or that most scientists believe that it is not happening (10 percent). Just 52 percent think most scientists “believe it is occurring,” down from 65 percent last year.
  • The poll showed a near-even split between those who think global temperature increases are due to human activity (50 percent) as opposed to natural causes (46 percent). That’s the lowest percentage to blame warming on human activity since Gallup first asked the question in 2003 and a drop of 8 percent from last year.
  • 48 percent said that news reports about climate change are “generally exaggerated” compared with 40 percent last year and 30 percent in 2006 and 2001.

The Gallup results mirror a recent study by Yale and George Mason universities called “Global Warming’s Six Americas.” The report found that the number of Americans who believe global warming is not happening has risen from 8 percent to 16 percent since 2008.

According to Gallup, the study results over the last two years mark a reversal in American attitudes about climate change.  Their data shows that concerns had increased from 1997 for over a decade, but in 2009 public concern retreated, and this year’s survey results mark an even more pronounced downtown.

As we have reported, this shift in attitudes may reflect recent publicity about mistakes in the 2007 IPCC report and the emails hacked and disseminated from the accounts of East Anglia climate scientists.  The record-breaking cold and snow in some parts of the country this year also could have played a role as well as the increasingly politicized nature of the debate.

  • http://ncvoices.us Anna Haynes

    Gretchen, pls take a look at Katherine Hayhoe’s presentation (to Republicans for Environmental Protection) which IMO is a stunner.

    http://www.rep.org/Hayhoe_Climate.pdf

    Wonderful, wonderful images.

  • Tim Goncharoff

    Most people’s understanding of global warming is pretty limited and dramatically affected by what’s happening outside right now. Conduct the same survey on a hot day in August and you’ll see the number of believers skyrocket.

  • http://www.sylviapaull.com Sylvia Paull

    The public’s lack of belief in what is a proven scientific occurrence — climate change — needs to be rectified through the media, schools, and other public institutions.

    Dan Miller — an investor in clean tech — is going around California giving a talk, “A REALLY Inconvenient Truth,” (at http://www.climateplace.org) to warn people that climate change is going to be much worse, much sooner than we think. He’d be glad to speak about his latest research in Oceanography Magazine with your audience.