Tuesday, September 23, 2008

US views on climate change

From the US Gallup poll 2008 on climate change:

Is Global Warming Occurring?

When asked their views on when the effects of global warming will begin to happen, 61% of Americans currently say "they have already begun to happen." This is a modest increase from 1997, when only 48% gave this response. However, while over three-fourths of Democrats (76%) believe global warming is already happening, only 41% of Republicans share that view.

Views of Media Coverage

While the percentage of Democrats who view the news about global warming as being exaggerated has been fairly stable, at 23% in 1997 and 18% this year, the percentage of Republicans taking this view has increased dramatically -- from 34% to 59%.

Is There a "Scientific Consensus"?

Not surprisingly (in view of trends for the two prior questions), the belief that at least most scientists accept global warming as real has increased more among Democrats (from 51% to 74%) than among Republicans (from 39% to 56%).

Human Caused or Natural Change?

While Republicans' belief in human-induced global warming has declined 10 percentage points from 2003 to 2008 (from 52% to 42%), Democrats' belief has been steady (possibly even rising slightly, though the increase from 68% to 73% is not statistically significant).

Is Global Warming a Threat?

There has been moderate growth in the percentage of Americans viewing global warming as "a serious threat" to themselves or their way of life during their lifetimes, from 25% in 1997 to 40% this year. Unlike the prior items, the trends for this one are fairly similar for Republicans and Democrats. After experiencing only minor fluctuations from 1997 to 2006, this year there was a small but noticeable rise in Republican agreement that global warming is a serious threat -- reaching 29%. Yet the increase among Democrats was greater, from 36% to 50% -- fully half of Democrats in this year's poll.

Summing Up

Overall, Gallup has documented changes in Americans' views of global warming over the past decade. There has been a slight increase in the percentage of Americans who view global warming as already happening, and a more substantial increase in the percentage who believe that a majority of scientists think global warming is occurring, with the result that more than 6 in 10 Americans endorse both views (61% and 65%, respectively). There has also been a sizable increase in the percentage saying global warming will pose a serious threat within their lifetimes, although it is still a minority position at 40%. In contrast, there has been only a slight increase in the percentage saying the seriousness of global warming has been exaggerated, as just over a third of Americans currently express this view. Finally, there has been virtually no change in the percentage agreeing that global warming is due more to human activities, with 6 in 10 Americans holding this view.

What these trends often mask, however, are highly divergent trends among Republicans and Democrats. As noted above, the proportions of Democrats agreeing that global warming is already happening, that most scientists believe it is occurring, and that it will pose a serious threat in their lifetimes have increased substantially over the past decade.

At the same time, the proportions of Republicans agreeing that most scientists believe global warming is occurring and that it poses a serious threat have both increased, but more modestly than is true among Democrats, while the proportion of Republicans agreeing that global warming is already happening has declined a bit.

The proportion of Republicans who believe news of global warming's seriousness is exaggerated has grown substantially over the past decade, while the proportion of Democrats expressing this view has been fairly steady. A similar pattern of diverging partisan views has also occurred on the issue of attributing global warming to human activities.

The result of these trends is that there are currently stark differences in Republicans' and Democrats' views of global warming. The claim that environmental protection would be a "motherhood" issue that would unite the nation, commonly made in the early 1970s, has clearly not come to pass -- particularly when it comes to global warming.


What do people think??

Comments most welcome !!

Please check out:

Americans and climate change

Environmentalists draft roadmap for Obama

Governors' Global Climate Summit

California Climate Risk and Response

Combating Climate Change and Boosting Growth Are Natural Allies

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