Climate Change Acceptance Among Americans Reaches Highest Level in 7 Years

blog-belief in climate change-10.20.15Americans not only want their political candidates to understand climate science – they are more likely to believe in climate science themselves. A new poll from the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College found that 70 percent of Americans feel there is strong evidence of global warming. This represents a seven percent increase in the level of belief over the past six months, and is just two points shy of the record level reached in 2008.
As this Guardian article reports, the increase was particularly dramatic among Republicans and Evangelical Christians. Many respondents cited climate impacts such as major storms, floods, and especially drought as factors – 61 percent said their views were strongly affected by severe droughts in many parts of the U.S.
This study reinforces the importance of emphasizing local, visible impacts when communicating about climate. It also shows that climate change is increasingly a mainstream concern. The leading Democratic presidential candidates appear to know this – in last week’s debate, all but one mentioned climate change as a major campaign issue and brought it up several times, even though only one official question was asked about it. (And that question was reframed by CNN’s Don Lemon in terms of “protecting the environment,” which seems to indicate that the media still sees climate change as a special interest issue.)
Read the full study here.

Rising Numbers of Americans Believe Climate Science, Poll Shows

By Emma Howard, contributor to the Guardian
Level of belief has increased seven percentage points in the past six months as climate change brings weather events closer to home
Around 70% of Americans believe in the science behind global warming – the highest level of acceptance in the US since 2008 – according to a new survey.
The level of belief has increased seven percentage points in the past six months, the polling by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College shows.
The researchers said the significant rise in acceptance is particularly notable among Republicans and evangelical Christian groups.
The swing is largely due to recognition of the role that climate change is playing in changing weather patterns, with respondents citing weather events close to home, according to Prof Barry Rabe, a co-author from the University of Michigan.
The report revealed a “strong recognition of recent weather patterns” with a particular emphasis on severe droughts in the US and warmer local temperatures, he said.
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Image credit: Pixabay

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