June 6, 2013

Most Americans say global warming is real, but opinions split on why


Nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that there’s solid evidence the earth’s average temperature has been rising over the past few decades.

About seven-in-ten Americans (69%) say there’s solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March. That’s about as many as said so in 2008, although acceptance of the reality of global warming has risen and fallen considerably over that time span: from a high of 79% in July 2006 to a low of 57% in October 2009.

But opinions vary on what’s causing the planet’s mean temperature to rise. Four in ten (42%) said it was primarily due to human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, while 23% attributed the warming to natural variations in climate patterns. Another 27% said there was no solid evidence of any warming.

Although a solid majority of Americans believe the evidence of global warming is real, concern about it seems to have lessened over time. In a Pew Research survey from June 2006, about three-quarters of Americans said global warming was either a “very serious (41%) or “somewhat serious” (33%) problem.

But in the most recent survey, only 33% of Americans called global warming a very serious problem, and 32% said it was somewhat serious. Meanwhile, the percentage saying it was not a problem at all nearly doubled, from 11% in June 2006 to 20% in the most recent survey. Last year, 19% said it was not a problem at all.

In partisan terms, almost twice as many Democrats (87%) as Republicans (44%) say there’s solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been rising, and Democrats are three times as likely as Republicans to say that global warming is mainly caused by human activity (57% vs. 19%). Read more

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.


  1. russ4 years ago

    We need to change the meme to the “crisis of CO2”, from the “crisis of global warming.”

    The reason why the world has not warmed as predicted by the global warming models is that high and rising CO2 nourishes plant life… plants with lots of extra CO2 don’t lose as much water (evapo-transpiration)… it turns out that water from plants is the majority of water vapour in the air, NOT evaporation from oceans!

    Since all global warming models assume that rising CO2 will warm the air enough to evaporate more water into vapour in the air, the very much more potent greenhouse gas – water vapour then does the majority of the global warming work… Bzzzzzt! Water vapour has been in decline in opposition to CO2 rise…Here’s a link to explain it more russgeorge.net/2013/06/11/why-cl…

    Most important is that high and rising CO2 is still a major crisis, it is killing off ocean life at rate where we have observed the loss of an entire Amazon Rainforest of ocean plant life and biodiversity every five years since the 1950’s. That’s a dozen rainforests worth of CO2 management gone. Fortunately the ocean pastures can be restored to their former abundance at very low cost and in a very few number of years. Doing so will bring the fish back as a equally important accomplishment.

    What if billions of tonnes of CO2 could become ocean life instead of ocean death… and the cost were mere millions not hundreds of billions? Here’s how russgeorge.net/2013/04/28/greenf…

  2. Turboblocke4 years ago

    Isn’t it amazing how people follow the party line and ignore the evidence of their own eyes.