Public opinion about global warming is an important influence on decision making about policies to combat global warming and to be prepared for its consequences. An extensive polling effort by Yale University has produced an estimate of public opinions down to state, congressional district, and county levels.
Not surprisingly, it provides a rich picture of the diversity of Americans’ beliefs, attitudes and policy opinions. However, the overall results, the state results, and even the results at the county level show that most Americans do believe that global warming is happening. Whether human activities are the primary cause is more controversial among our population and falls predictably into the standard red state/blue state dichotomy.
Overall, 70% of Americans believe that global warming is happening and only 12% don’t think so. 53% believe that humans are the primary cause, while about 32% believe it is a natural phenomenon. Nevertheless, 58% of Americans are worried about global warming and fully 75% support the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the survey is that only 49% of respondents believe that most scientists even think global warming is happening. This can only be the result of aggressive disinformation campaigns since some 97% of climate scientists agree that we are warming the planet. Given that 71% of Americans say that they trust climate scientists about global warming, it is unfortunate that more than half of us are mistaken about what scientists believe.
One would hope that the opinions of a significant majority of our country’s citizens would hold sway on national policy, but that does not seem to be the way things work these days.
Photo, posted March 4, 2015, courtesy of Kevin Gill via Flickr.