Pew Research poll finds modest rise in number of Americans saying there is “solid evidence” of global warming; 38% attribute to human activity
A Pew Research poll finds that the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence of global warming has increased modestly over the past two years. Currently, 63% say there is solid evidence that the earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In October 2009, 57% expressed this view.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted 9-14 Nov. among 2,001 adults, finds that nearly four-in-ten (38%) say that global warming is occurring mostly because of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, which also is slightly higher than last year (34%). From 2006-2008, 47% said global warming was mostly caused by human activity.
The number saying global warming is a very serious problem also has risen to 38% currently from 32% last year; 35% said this in 2009. A majority of Americans (65%) say that global warming is either a very serious (38%) or somewhat serious (27%) problem. A third (33%) views global warming as not too serious a problem (16%) or not a problem (17%).
Nonetheless, substantially fewer Americans say there is solid evidence of global warming than did so from 2006 to 2008. And in those years, higher percentages viewed global warming as a very serious problem than do so today.
The survey finds a continuing partisan divide in opinions about global warming: 77% of Democrats and 63% of independents say there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. Just 43% of Republicans agree.
There also is a large partisan gap in views about the causes of global warming: 51% of Democrats and 40% of independents say the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity. Just 19% of Republicans say rising temperatures are mostly attributable to human activity.
The large partisan and ideological gap over the existence of global warming is reflected in opinions about whether it represents a serious problem. Nine-in-ten (90%) liberal Democrats say global warming is at least a somewhat serious problem, with 64% calling it very serious. Nearly three-quarters of conservative Republicans (73%) say global warming either is not too serious a problem or not a problem; 44% say it is not a problem.
Both parties are internally divided, though the differences are more pronounced among Republicans. While 73% of conservatives say global warming is not much of a problem, only 34% of moderates and conservatives agree. Liberal Democrats are more likely than the party’s conservatives and moderates to view global warming as a very serious problem (64% vs. 50%). And about twice as many conservative and moderate Democrats as liberals say it is little or no problem (21% vs. 9%).
The GOP’s divisions over global warming also are seen in how Tea Party Republicans and non-Tea Party Republicans view the issue. Among all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party, 30% say there is solid evidence of global warming and 11% say it is mostly caused by human activity. A majority (56%) of Republicans and GOP leaners who do not agree with the Tea Party see solid evidence of global warming, and 28% say it is mostly caused by human activity.
And while more than half (55%) of Republicans and leaners who do not agree with the Tea Party view global warming as at least a somewhat serious problem, just 27% of Tea Party Republicans agree.