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

One of the 25 new Long Beach Transit hybrid gasoline-electric buses on April 23, 2009. Jeff Gritchen / Digital First Media / Orange County Register / Getty Images

In Long Beach, California, some electric buses can charge along their route without cords or wires.

When a bus reaches the Pine Avenue station, it parks over a special charging pad. While passengers get on and off, the charger transfers energy to a receiver on the bottom of the bus.

Read More Show Less
Semi trucks travel along I94 on June 21 near Lake forest, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Trump administration pushed through an exemption to clean air rules, effectively freeing heavy polluting, super-cargo trucks from following clean air rules. It rushed the rule without conducting a federally mandated study on how it would impact public health, especially children, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan in a report released yesterday, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A time-restricted eating plan provides a new way to fight obesity and metabolic diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. RossHelen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Satchin Panda and Pam Taub

People with obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are often advised to eat less and move more, but our new research suggests there is now another simple tool to fight off these diseases: restricting your eating time to a daily 10-hour window.

Read More Show Less
Kunhui Chih / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Plastic debris washed up on remote islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans has killed hermit crabs, which mistake the plastic for shells, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
A man and his dog walk past an H&M store in Stockholm, Sweden on March 11, 2014. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

H&M's flagship store at the Sergels Torg square in Stockholm is back in business after a months-long refurbishment. But it's not exactly business as usual here.

Read More Show Less