There is a new Gallup poll that together with earlier data from Gallup provides some interesting information about attitudes in the US about global warming.
Earlier polls have shown increase and decrease in concern about global warming, and changes in what people think of news about climate change and the severity of the problem. Recently, there has been a shift towards greater concern which follows a low point, which, in turn, follows a period of global concern.
One question involves reading off a list of specific concerns related to global warming and asking participants to rank their concern over that issue, and then averaging the responses. This produces a graph of percentage of “worry” at higher levels that looks like this:
According to Gallup, the breakdown underlying this graph indicates that
33% of Americans worry about global warming “a great deal,” 25% worry “a fair amount,” 20% “only a little,” and 23% “not at all.”
The take home message here is that 58% of Americans see global warming as serous while a mere 23% see it as not an issue at all. Denialists together with those who just don’t know are in a small minority. Also, 54% of Americans acknowledge that the effects of global warming have already started.
Even though a mere 23% of respondents don’t seem to think global warming is a problem, even fewer, 15%, think that it “will never happen” while 81% think that the effects of global warming have already begun or are to be expected in the future. Here’s the graph of those responses over time:
Related to all this is the way Americans view news stories about global warming. A plurality, but a declining number, tend to see news stories as exaggerated, but the combined number who see stories as either correct or underestimated is over half. Notably, those who see stories of global warming in the news as underestimates of the severity of the problem have been increasing in number in recent years.
Prior to a recent nadir in about 2010, over 60% of Americans recognized that there is a scientific consensus that Global warming is occurring. This number has recently risen from that recent dip to 52% nearly to it’s high point of 65% and is now as 62% and perhaps rising. Only a tiny percent responded that they think most scientists do not believe global warming is occurring.
The number of people who understand that humans are the primary cause of global warming also underwent a dip aroun 2010, and that number is rising again to pre 2010 levels.
And finally, a large percentage of Americans recognize that the effects of global warming will have a negative impact on their lives:
Gallup is expected to release information on attitudes about global warming based on political orientation. The present study can be found here.
Meanwhile, we should note that the scientific consensus is much stronger than the public consensus. It looks more like this (from here):