The Poll Archive RSS

(12/14/09) -

Belief in Man-Made Global Warming Shows Clear Downward Trend in U.S.

Less than half of Americans believe climate change is caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.

Less than half of Americans believe climate change is caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.

The proportion of Americans who believe global warming is caused by human activity has dwindled markedly as the year progresses, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,001 American adults, 44 per cent of respondents (-7 since June) believe that global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities.

About a fifth of Americans (22%) think global warming is real, but claim the cause lies in natural changes of the earth’s climate.

A similar proportion of respondents (23%) say global warming is an unproven theory.

A third of Americans think climate change will significantly affect their own lives and the lives of future generations. Three-in-ten agree that this phenomenon will affect future generations greatly, but don’t think it will affect their own lives in an important way. Fifteen per cent of respondents think changes to the earth climate will not impact this or future generations at all.

Credibility and Politics

Three-in-five respondents (59%) say they believe scientists when they talk about global warming or climate change. Environmental organizations are next on the credibility ranking (45%). Television news is a very distant third (24%).

Most Americans (58%) don’t believe anything industry associations or individual corporations have to say about global warming. Half of them also mistrust the federal government and opinion columnists in the media.

One third of Americans (33%) believe the Democratic Party is best suited to develop global warming legislation, while 24 per cent choose the Republican Party.

“Climategate”

For the most part, Americans are unaware of the so-called “climategate,” a news story that broke when several e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University in England were disseminated. Three-in-five respondents (62%) say they have not followed this news story at all. Twenty per cent have been following it very or moderately closely, and 18 per cent know have done so, but not too closely.

Roughly a third of respondents (34%) think that the emails show that climate scientists agreed to withhold information that does not fit their position. A slightly smaller proportion of Americans (31%) regard the whole scandal as a smear campaign against climate scientists. About three-in-ten respondents (29%) believe that most of the statistics quoted by climate scientists are fabricated, and one third say the American media has been covering the issue in a fair manner.

Analysis

While many Americans did not pay much attention to “climategate”, there is a noticeable shift in perceptions about global warming. Back in July, the group of respondents who sided with the notion that climate change is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities outnumbered the other two options (global warming caused by natural changes and global warming is an unproven theory) by 14 points. This month, the two factions are virtually tied (44% to 45%)

Americans who consider global warming an unproven theory hold very clear views on “climategate.” A majority of these respondents believe that most of the statistics quoted by climate scientists are fabricated (55%), that the media has not covered this issue in a fair manner (51%), and that the e-mails show collusion by climate scientists to withhold information that does not fit their position (55%).

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

CONTACT:

Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs
+604 647 3570
mario.canseco@angus-reid.com