A new Harris Interactive poll has found that 67% of Americans believe the activities of human beings are contributing to an increase in global temperatures—a level only slightly changed from last year’s 65%. In the 2007 version of this poll, 21% said they did not believe the activities of humans contributed to an increase in temperatures while this year 17% do not believe this.
However, only 30% believe global warming will present a threat to them and their families within their lifetime; 39% believe it will not; 31% are not sure. Last year, 36% believed it would be a threat within their lifetime while 41% said it would not and 24% were not sure.
There has been a change in feelings towards the amount of the increase in temperatures. Last year, 50% of those who believe humans are contributing to an increase in temperatures characterized that increase as substantial; this year 40% say it is substantial.
Just under this (38%) believe the change is moderate, while one-third (33%) said it was moderate last year. One in five (18%) say the increase is slight, while 14% said slight last year.
Only one in ten (11%) Americans say that they have looked up their personal and/or household’s carbon footprint. The younger people are, the more likely they have looked up their footprint. Almost one in five (18%) Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) say they have looked up their carbon footprint and/or their household’s footprint as have 11% of Gen Xers (those aged 32-43) compared to just 9% of Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62) and 6% of Matures (those aged 63 and older).
Americans claim that they are doing things that will reduce it and their carbon emissions. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Americans say they may have reduced the amount of energy they use in their home, while two in five (43%) have purchased more energy efficient appliances. Additionally, more than one-quarter (27%) of Americans have started purchasing more locally grown food while one in five (21%) have stopped drinking bottled water.
Much smaller numbers (2% each) have purchased a hybrid car or purchased carbon offsets from an organization.
While most people are doing something, one-quarter of adults (27%) are doing nothing to reduce their emissions. And, while younger Americans may be more likely to look up their carbon footprint, they are also more likely to do nothing about it. Three in ten Echo Boomers (29%) and Gen Xers (31%) say they are doing nothing to reduce their emissions compared to one-quarter (26%) of Baby Boomers and one in five (20%) Matures.
The Harris Interactive poll surveyed 2,529 US adults surveyed online between April 7 and 15, 2008.