Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

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

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."

Recycling and general waste plastic wheelie bins awaiting collection for disposal in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim Graham / Getty Images

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. According to The National Museum of American History, this popular slogan, with its iconic three arrows forming a triangle, embodied a national call to action to save the environment in the 1970s. In that same decade, the first Earth Day happened, the EPA was formed and Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, encouraging recycling and conservation of resources, Enviro Inc. reported.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The coal-fired Huaneng Power Plant in Huai 'an City, Jiangsu Province, China on Sept. 13, 2020. Costfoto / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic was the record drop in greenhouse gas emissions following national lockdowns. But that drop is set to all but reverse as economies begin to recover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A grizzly bear killed an outdoor guide in a rare attack near Yellowstone Park. William Campbell / Corbis / Getty Images

A backcountry guide has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear near Yellowstone National Park.

Read More Show Less
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) re-introduces the Green New Deal in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2021. Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

In the latest of a flurry of proposed Green New Deal legislation, Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday introduced the Green New Deal for Cities Act of 2021, a $1 trillion plan to "tackle the environmental injustices that are making us and our children sick, costing us our homes, and destroying our planet."

Read More Show Less
Offshore oil and gas drillers have left more than 18,000 miles of pipelines at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Offshore oil and gas drillers have discarded and abandoned more than 18,000 miles of pipelines on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1960s, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

Read More Show Less