Climate Change: Key Data Points from Pew Research
In his inaugural and State of the Union addresses, President Obama spoke of the need to deal with climate change in his second term, but the American public routinely ranks dealing with global warming low on its list of priorities for the president and Congress. This year, it ranks at the bottom of the 21 tested.
In the Pew Research Center’s annual policy priorities survey, released Jan. 24, just 28% say dealing with global warming is a top priority for the president and Congress this year, little changed from the 30% that said this when Obama first took office in 2009. Nearly four-in-ten Democrats say global warming should be a top priority, compared with just 13% of Republicans. About three-in-ten independents (31%) say this as well. (See our interactive chart, Twelve Years of the Public’s Top Priorities).
When we asked about climate change again in our February survey, only 34% of the public viewed new climate change policies as something that is essential for the White House and Congress to tackle this year.
There are sharp partisan divides when it comes to setting stricter emission limits on power plants to address climate change, according to our February survey.
Still, Obama’s focus on climate change comes at a time when nearly seven-in-ten Americans say they believe there is solid evidence of global warming .
According to a March survey, the percentage saying there is solid evidence of global warming has steadily increased over the past few years. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) say there is solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades, up six points since November 2011 and 12 points since 2009.
Still, the March survey showed there are sharp partisan divides about whether there is solid evidence of warming.
Since 2009, a growing number of Americans attribute global warming to human activity.
An October 2012 survey found that 42% believed the warming is mostly caused by human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, while 19% say it is mostly caused by natural patterns in the earth’s environment. In 2011, 38% mostly attributed global warming to human activity and in 2010 34% did so.
In the October 2012 survey, the public continued to be divided on the question of whether scientists agree that the earth is warming mostly because of human activity.
More than four-in-ten (45%) say scientists do agree with this, while 43% say they do not. This is little changed from 2010. In 2006, far more said that scientists agree (59%) than disagree (29%) that the earth is warming mostly because of human activity. There is a wide partisan divide over the question of scientific consensus.
Read more Pew Research reports on Climate Change.
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