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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Survey finds ignorance uptick on climate change

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Editor's note: The news desk received the following press release from Yale University at 10:14 a.m. on Jan. 16.

ABOUT 1 IN 4 AMERICANS SAY GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT HAPPENING

HALF SAY THEY ARE "WORRIED" ABOUT IT

A national survey conducted in the final months of 2013 finds that there has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013). But about two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening, a number that has been consistent since spring 2013. The proportion of Americans who say they "don't know" whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points - from 20% to 14% - since spring of 2013.

On other measures, the survey found that public awareness over the past year has remained essentially stable:

About half of Americans (51%) say they are "somewhat" (38%) or "very worried" (15%) about global warming.

Fewer than half of Americans (38%) believe they personally will be harmed a "moderate amount" or a "great deal" by global warming. By contrast, majorities believe that global warming will harm future generations of people (65%) and plant and animal species (65%).

"Our findings show that the public's understanding of global warming's reality, causes, and risks has not improved and has, in at least one important respect, gone in the wrong direction over the past year," said researcher Ed Maibach, PhD, of George Mason University. "Better public communication about global warming is needed now more than ever."

The survey also found that Americans (59%) are "interested" in global warming.

Moreover, about four in 10 say they feel "helpless" (43%), "disgusted" (42%), or "sad" (40%) when thinking about global warming. By contrast, four in ten (42%), say they feel "hopeful" about the subject.

"Global warming stirs a number of emotions among Americans," said lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD, of Yale University. "But these emotions differ greatly across 'Global Warming's Six Americas'. For example, other than saying they feel 'interested,' the 'Alarmed' are mostly afraid, sad, and angry about global warming, while the 'Dismissive' are mostly disgusted and angry. These different emotional responses are clearly fueling the debate."

These findings come from a nationally representative survey - Climate Change in the American Mind - conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Interview dates: November 23-December 9, 2013. Interviews: 830 Adults (18+).
Total average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The research Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, and the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation funded the research.

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