Poll: American Opinion on Climate Change Warms Up

George mason logo According to Yale and George Mason Universities' poll, Americans' concern about global warming has recently increased. Between January and June, Americans' belief that global warming is happening increased by 4 pts to 61%. At the same time, belief that warming is caused by human activities rose 3 pts to 50% and the % who worry about it rose 3 pts as well, to 53%. Most significantly, the % of Americans who believe that climate change is "personally important to them" increased by 5 pts, to 63%.

Posted June 8, 2010
By George Mason University

Public concern about global warming is
once again on the rise, according to a national survey released today by
researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities. The results come as
the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this week on a resolution to block the
EPA from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

Since January, public belief that global
warming is happening rose four points, to 61 percent, while belief that
it is caused mostly by human activities rose three points, to 50
percent. The number of Americans who worry about global warming rose
three points, to 53 percent. And the number of Americans who said that
the issue is personally important to them rose five points, to 63

“The stabilization and slight rebound in
public opinion is occurring amid signs the economy is starting to
recover, along with consumer confidence, and as memories of unusual
snowstorms and scientific scandals recede,” said Anthony Leiserowitz,
director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. “The BP
oil disaster is also reminding the public of the dark side of dependence
on fossil fuels, which may be increasing support for clean energy

Americans who said President Obama and
Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a high priority
increased 11 points, to 71 percent, while those who said that global
warming should be a high priority rose six points, to 44 percent. In a
seven-point increase since January, 69 percent of Americans said that
the United States should make a large or medium effort to reduce global
warming even if it incurs large or moderate economic costs.

Current public support for specific
policy options (and changes since January, 2010) include:

  • 77 percent support regulating
    carbon dioxide as a pollutant (+6)
  • 87 percent support funding more
    research into renewable energy sources (+2)
  • 83 percent support tax rebates
    for people who buy fuel-efficient vehicles and solar panels (+1)
  • 65 percent support signing an
    international treaty that requires the United States to cut its
    emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050 (+4)
  • 61 percent support requiring
    electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity
    from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household
    an extra $100 per year (+2)
  • Support for expanding offshore
    drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast fell to 62
    percent (-5)

“More than seven out of 10 Americans say
the United States should take action to power our nation with clean
energy,” said Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change
Communication at George Mason University. “Even more Americans support
regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including 64 percent of

The results come from a nationally
representative survey of 1,024 American adults, age 18 and older. The
sample was weighted to correspond with U.S. Census Bureau parameters.
The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percent, with 95
percent confidence. The survey was designed by researchers at Yale and
George Mason Universities and conducted from May 14, 2009 to June 1,
2010 by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel of American

Copies of
the reports can be downloaded from:

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