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Rasmussen Poll Finds 47% of US Voters Believe Global Warming Caused by Long-Term Planetary Trends

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% of US voters say global warming is caused by long-term planetary trends rather than human activity; 42% say human activity is the cause, while five percent (5%) say there is some other reason.

Raswarming
Results of Rasmussen polling on causes of global warming since April 2008, with trendlines. Click to enlarge.

Although the percentage have varied at times widely from poll to poll, since April 2008, the trend in responses has been toward assigning long-term planetary change as the cause of warming, and away from anthropogenic emissions.

The latest poll finds:

  • Most men (53%) say long-term trends are to blame, while women are closely divided on the question. Younger voters are more likely than their elders to see human activity as the root cause of global warming.

  • Sixty-two percent (62%) of Democrats fault humans, while 65% of Republicans and a plurality (49%) of voters not affiliated with either party say planetary trends are the culprit.

  • 52% of all voters think that President Obama believes global warming is caused primarily by human activity. Only 20% say the president blames planetary trends. Nine percent (9%) say the president faults some other reason, and 19% are not sure what Obama thinks.

  • Sixty-four percent (64%) say global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 35% who regard it as very serious. Twenty percent (20%) say it’s not very serious, and another 14% view it as not at all serious. These numbers have been largely the same for months, according to Rasmussen.

  • Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans favor the climate change bill intended to curb global warming that was passed by the House in June and is set for review by the Senate when it returns next week. Forty percent (40%) are opposed to it. However, the antis feel more strongly: Twenty-six percent (26%) Strongly Oppose the bill versus 10% who Strongly Favor it. Sixty percent (60%) of voters believe it is more important to find new sources of energy than to reduce the amount of energy Americans now consume. Thirty-two percent (32%) disagree and say energy conservation should be the priority.

But in a separate survey, just 23% of Americans believe that new, cost-effective energy sources will be found. Fifty-nine percent (59%) say people in the United States must cut back on their lifestyle to conserve energy instead. Fifty percent (50%) of voters say more nuclear power plants should be built in the United States. Thirty-four percent (34%) are opposed, and 16% are not sure.

Generally speaking, 48% of Americans favor increased government spending on programs that encourage Americans to be more energy-efficient. Thirty-six percent (36%) oppose additional government spending with this goal in mind.

Comments

Chris McCormick

For what we deem to be current scientific knowledge, vs. population's opinion is often not to be a problem except for when it impacts real choices about the future. What should have been part of the educational process in the survey, would be that - for it not for anthropogenic warming, we would be in a natural cooling cycle. (Earth's orbital parameters, Earth's nutation, lack of Sun Spots, ...). Anyway, I think we have not educated the population enough for the population to arrive at an informed decision. But, that is often the case in the questioners as well. Wish we could get more people to read the scientific journals, and then have a poll
Chris McCormick

Treehugger

Yes, and somewhere it is so much more confortable to think that it is not your own fault but something else or someonelse fault, right ?

Nick Lyons

Americans are, on the whole, woefully ignorant.

HarveyD

How does it compare with similar polls done in other countries with different culture and education system?

Does it vary much from one state to another?

Marc Ferguson

Is anyone surprised by this. Most disturbing is that the trends have shifted toward Planetary causes. Were the poll to show other connections, I'm convinced we would find associations between "Plantetarists" and an economic motive, whether it is direct or indirect (I don't want to stop consuming). We've developed a 'not me' culture that truly believes we can deliver a 'just in time', Hollywood-style fix to any catastrophe. While no one knows where that point really is - there's enough science to suggest an acceleration effect, and a tipping point before we get concensus on action. We need a more profound message to the average American, who will ultimately reject politics, reject rhetoric, and reject their own selfish consumption for the benefit of the country. Scientists expect citizens to make decisions the way they do - on the basis of fact - when in truth, the average citizen uses a trusted source to guide their decision-making. My guess is you have Planetarists who look to Limbaugh, Beck, etc. for their science in the same way they do for their politics. The burden is on us to rise above these voices with a more honest, more accurate, and more persuasive message.

Sean Prophet

Americans are about to get a really long and painful science lesson. The popular denial is likely to get even worse before it finally collapses under the weight of horrific events.

Then as as the reality finally seeps through skulls thickened by years of Limbaugh/Drudge/Beck rhetoric, it will morph into a belated conservative passion for trillion-dollar geoengineering schemes. The world will be forced to pay up. And corporations like Halliburton, Boeing, Schlumberger and Bechtel will be poised to "save us."

The Right will be happy to pay through the nose if it fattens corporate coffers. The GOP has no problem with big government if it feeds their bottom line. Anything but making things better. Anything but reimagining our lifestyles to be simpler, more cost-efficient, and sensible. The 'merican energy consumption orgy is non-negotiable, remember?

kelly

'Long-term planetary trends' more likely produced an illegitiment 'chad' President, Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction, and war profiteering than climate change.

Ninety (90) percent of the world's science academies, including the US, settled this question.

aym

Not surprising. Even here at GCC, we have a set bunch of posters who keep posting superceded arguements contrary to mainstream science, who believe in an extremely small subset of scientists who have yet to actually publish real peer reviewed work. And yet they inudate any media they have access to.

Just look at the subdivisions of the poll. Especially the people who strongly don't believe in AGW. It almost comes downs to politicol ideology for opposition especially vocal opposition. These are the scariest people you wouldn't want to meet but people are listening because they scream the loudest.

The only thing you can hope to do is keep plugging away and show how really bankrupt their arguements are. Sooner or later the opposition will fracture. Even under conservative rule, they have not ignored AGW and have implemented policies. The major problem is that conservatives in general have only paid lip service to doing something because they appeal to the fundalistist narrow views of their most vocal constituants. Or they don't believe in it, and have only implemented incompetent plans they know will fail to appease the more right wing elements or appeal to the AGW crowd to fool them into thinking they are doing something.

aym

On a final note. People argueing on AGW knew this was coming. It was always the next battle. As the undeniability of warming becomes less argueable, the battle will shift to one of denying an ability to fight climate change so that business can continue as usual.

This was the backup strategy in many arguements from the anti-AGW crowd and some have already come up. And I find it laughable that the most vocal now can be shown to have really not given actual thought since their vehement arguements are contradictory.

Lastly, I would add that other countries would have totally different views based on how dependent they were on the benefits of using/creating the CO2. It is far easier and more objective in Europe than America with its love affair with the car and it's past place as the world's largest oil producer and its economic dependency on oil. It is no surprise that one of only countries to try to tone down the IPCC reports in the past were the political representives of Saudi Arabia as well as the US.

frankbank

I think most people have been told that the science is understood only by those who claim to know. Most people are used to have been appealed to as a jury of kindergarteners that are incapable of understanding a technical argument and the facts that are used to support or reject it.

Most people, at this time, understand that the left really likes the idea of man-made global warming, and advanced the case for it using a politician. Most folks have seen or heard a bit about the Al Gore preachy docu-drama that may have insulted their intelligence. Most people are now used to having themselves grouped among the non-hip who don't "get it" when they have a question about what Al said was the indisputable truth.

I think most people recognize that the Left would like the idea of man made global warming, even it weren't true. A huge natural disaster that might, just might, be averted with a giant collective effort would be a galvanizing force for centralized control of economic activities.

So the skepticism that the poll results show seems altogether natural.

aym

The science is understood by anyone who wants to spend the time and effort on non-partisen sources for information. Nice and simple. The incapability arises when obvious biased sources are taken for fact.

The Left. The Left. Yah right. It's a question of science. Of observation leading to theory. A conspiracy theory based on a dislike of some socio-political leaning? Of "a galvanizing force for centralized control of economic activities"? From who? The people who have the most economic clout don't want to spend or deal with this issue. None of them do. On the other hand, you have Exxon admitting to funding groups, people and entire organizations. A conspiracy of that size fall apart quite easily. Look a WMDs and Iraq. Look at the people who still think they were real.

All sides have a stake in the outcome of AGW. There are libertarian eco groups that hate the idea of AGW over nuclear power. Nuclear power is gaining traction using AGW. Is that Left?

So fear of the left should be used to justify a position and not empirical evidence or reason? You don't like to be told you're wrong? From that you knee jerk into denial? Forever? Bend the empirical into conspiracy? Politicize? Afraid of economic impacts or societal/political impacts so it can't be true?

These shouldn't ever be taken into consideration when evaluating the evidence. If it is, then you've just got to admit it instead of using pseudo-scientific reasoning. Evidence leads to theories of causality. Theory looking for evidence leads to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and may seem justified but never is.

Mannstein

Global warming could be caused by a whole number of natural phenomenon. At one time Greenland was balmy. Vickings even raised sheep and grew crops to sustain their early settlements there.

Incidentally they didn't drive cars.

Chris McCormick

The problem with Mr. Frankbank's argument, is that he tries to state this as a Left/Right argument, when it is a knowledge/ignorant argument. Either we look for the facts, and where the facts lead, or we suppose what we would like to suppose based on our opinionated makeup.

The facts of anthropogenic caused atmospheric pollutants (whether the older CFC's from refrigerants & their destruction of Ozone...CFC's are not produced in nature...and the world's banning of these after the cause/effect was shown) ...or newer CO2's CO's NOx's and the methanes and methanes out of the not so perma, permafrost...anyway; Mr. Frankbank proves a point when he tries to tie a political bent to a scientific investigation. The scientific process is useful in order to produce choices that our political leaders (or are they followers?) can at least attempt to have policies of informed solutions.

Chris McCormick

Henry Gibson

If polled, most people would deny that every living thing from the creation of the earth has always had built in radio-activity. All plants and animals have always been radio-active.

At great cost, a few very low radioactive micro organisms could be created and kept alive, but almost every farm and forest soil has uranium and thorium in it in addition to the always present radioactive potassium. ..HG..

VelomobilesAreTheAnswer

Willful ignorance is unfortunately and archetypal behavior throughout human history. Fear of the unknown or loss of perceived control often result in clinging to a status quo that fecklessly looks for nonsensical justifications, e.g., it is a liberal conspiracy, or scientists are fabricating data to ensure more research funding, etc. To quote a poignant line from a popular movie.. "The Matrix has you!"

wintermane2000

Its not about climate change its about FAITH. To be blunt very few people have any faith in ANY government they cant walk right over to and smack with a wifflebat.

We have seen plans from both sides and we all notice the greener side is far too dependant on competence and faith and hard work and intelligence and compassion and .. well people not acting like people...

So we already know thats buggered... But well.. the other side.... Well it doesnt depend on alot of stuff we dont have... Yup it likely will get alot of us killed... but not all of us... maybe. I might live through this...

So realy its like being driven across the country by charles manson or jefrey dohmer... Maybe he wont be hungry?

richard schumacher

Fight ignorance of the environment and energy policy. Contact your legislators to make your views known. Find them here:
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/

Support clean energy through Repower America:
http://www.repoweramerica.org/

Will S

I agree it is an issue of political obfuscation of a scientific subject. The corporate sponsors of shills helps to confuse the people into inaction (the propagandists don't need to win the argument, they merely need to sow doubt to induce inaction).

If one truly wants to know the scientific opinion on Global Warming, this site has the statements of over 40 scientific organizations linked, including the Science Academies of the US, UK, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Russia, Brazil, China, and India;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

Jer

I think that it is more about a 'personal' combination of: a person's tolerance for risk, empathy for other's suffering, and the way they want the world to be.
Me: I believe (faith?) that engineering can solve anything given enough time and resources. But do we have enough time? Depends on what people are willing to put up with on the way to a technological fix. Is 3 feet of water in susceptible areas and 5 degrees Fahrenheit over 50 years a reasonable level of sacrifice so that we can maintain lifestyles (and allow the developing world to achieve same) while technology converts much of the energy and materials into more efficient/ less impactful solutions. This is called a high risk tolerance (accepting a serious amount of collateral and unknown technological risk to achieve an 'ideal' society). Also, if you feel that the world can put up with a serious amount of adaptation and interim suffering, this will also contribute to the 'technology first, conservation second' attitude. This probably indicates a low capacity for empathy for another's suffering. Lastly, about the way one wants the world to be: in the same way that it was worth going through the heavy polluting of the 19th century industrial revolution so that we could achieve a level of technological advancement allowing us to have advanced healthcare, communication, infrastructure, -and- of course cars, luxuries, etc. I don't believe that we could have avoided it to achieve this. And, don't forget, due to the capitalist way the world works: technology only advances when there are resources to support it - which means consumption, investment, and taxes - which means extraction, energy use, and pollution -- no pain, no gain. The ideal world is waiting for the 8-10 billion of us on the other side of this century when we get through this. Any other plan of hyper-conservation, status-quo, or commodity war will just lead to a level of suffering, starvation, and conflict that will make all other super-tragedies before us seem lame and petty. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the suffering of trial-and-error technology and risk is the only way to get us 'all' through this. Let's try to be communal and help our fellow human during these coming decades of adaptation.

wintermane2000

One of the reasons for the iraq and afghan wars was to prep for whats comming. Much better to enter a REAL war with war vets and good solid weapons systems then it is to enter with the crap we had before those wars.

Hope for the best plan for the worst.

HarveyD

Hopefully, young Americans seem to think differently. More mature conviction may come around within one or two generations.

America is still a very young nation. Discernment and wisdom often come with age.

JC

I was about to write how wintermane2000 had it correct once again; and then he wrote back about war - completely wrong. Oh well.

The study shows the obvious: Americans can't see past the nose on their face. Young people have better brains. Republicans are ignorant and all too commonly self-centered liars. Most people are afraid of impending global warming disasters, but don't want to change their lifestyle to avoid them. They seek genius from science, or miracles from god to make it all go away. They don't want to pay a penny for it. Note that the trend line is not statistically significant.

With rapidly increasing living standards in the third world, there can be no way to avoid catastrophe without an order of magnitude reduction in GHG emissions by way of our living simply and efficiently. The human population must volutarily be brought down to something like 1/3 its present size in order to accomplish this.

How is it to be done? As Wintermane2000 said, I don't think it can be done given human nature. We are toast one way or another. We can only postpone the inevitable; and even that will take the adoration of a cult figure like the world has never seen.

wintermane2000

Note I said ONE of the reasons.. as in one of the reasons for global warming is cow farts.. One of the reasons for the wars was prep for whats expected to come soon. Just one of the reasons. Unlike some I dont fixate so much on THE REASON and instead ponder alot of the likely reasons and how much impact they might have and how much control we realy have over it all.

aym

Greenland.

Eric the Red "believed more people would go thither if the country had a beautiful name," but the land was inappropriate for the kind of agriculture and subsistance skills of the vikings. The inuit were quite able to survive through the period and still live there today.

I would not call the viking inhabitants of greenland flourishing in any way.


http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/vikings_during_mwp.html

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