Quantcast

Americans Increasingly Certain About Climate Change, But Uncertain It Will Be Stopped

Climate

Americans are more certain climate change is happening than at any point since 2008, but they are pessimistic that anything will be done about it.


These are among the findings of the March Climate Change in the American Mind survey, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication (4C), the results of which were published by YPCCC Tuesday.

The survey drew on interviews with 1,278 U.S. adults from March 7 to 24 and had a 95 percent confidence level.

The survey found that 49 percent of Americans are "very" or "extremely" sure that global warming is happening, while only seven percent are equally sure that it is not taking place. This is the greatest amount of certainty Americans have expressed that global warming is taking place since 2008.

Overall, 70 percent of Americans believe global warming is happening, and 58 percent believe it is caused by human actions, the survey found.

Americans are also increasingly concerned about global warming: 62 percent of Americans are "somewhat" or "very" worried about it, and the percentage that is "very worried"—21 percent—has more than doubled since its 2011 nine-percent low point.

Further, Americans associate global warming with changes taking place currently. Sixty-one percent think that global warming is impacting U.S. weather, and a majority also expressed concerns about specific extreme weather events happening in their local area. Sixty-four percent are "a little" to "very" worried about extreme heat, 61 percent are worried about drought, 60 percent about flooding and 52 percent about water shortages.

A smaller but sizeable number—39 percent—said they were being harmed "right now" because of global warming, and 42 percent thought they would be harmed in the future. However, 71 percent thought that future generations and plants and animal species would be harmed, and 63 percent expected harm to come to the world's poor.

The results compliment other recent surveys of U.S. climate opinion. A March Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans thought that global warming would pose a serious threat during their lives, the highest percentage in the question's 21-year history.

Other recent polls have shown that Americans differ from the Trump administration not only in taking climate change seriously, but also in believing the government should do something about it. A 2017 University of Michigan survey found that 52 percent of Americans thought the federal government had "a great deal of responsibility" to act.

But, in the most recent YPCCC and 4C survey, Americans expressed a great deal of pessimism that any such action would take place. A majority of Americans think that humans could reduce global warming, but only 6 percent think that we will. Forty-nine percent are unsure, and 22 percent said that we won't because "people aren't willing to change their behavior."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less
Text from the plaque that will mark the site where Ok glacier once was. Rice University

By Andrea Germanos

A climate change victim in Iceland is set to be memorialized with a monument that underscores the urgent crisis.

Read More Show Less