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A new poll on climate change

Duke Nicholas Institute

"The percentage of Americans who think climate change is occurring has rebounded ... and is at its highest level since 2006," according to a new poll conducted by researchers at Duke University. "Whether in response to extreme weather events like mega-storm Sandy or the improved economy, public opinion has clearly rebounded from its low point of a couple years ago," said researcher Frederick Mayer.

Asked "Is the earth's climate changing?" 49.9% of respondents said, "Yes, I'm convinced," and 33.5% said, "Probably yes, but I'd like more evidence," while only 8.5% said, "Probably no, but more evidence could convince me," and only 7.6% said, "No, there isn't any solid evidence." Acceptance of climate change was correlated with political affiliation: 70% of Democrats were convinced, as opposed to only 27% of Republicans and 48% of independents.

Respondents who agreed that the climate is changing were asked, "Is climate change primarily because of human activity or natural causes?" Human activity was the choice of 64.4%; natural causes was the choice of 34.8%. They were also asked, "How serious a threat is climate change?" Very serious was the choice of 37.7%; somewhat serious was the choice of 45.9%; not that much of a threat was the choice of 14.8%; not a threat at all was the choice of 1.1%.

All respondents were also asked, "How much do you trust scientists to provide impartial and accurate findings on climate change?" A great deal was the choice of 20.2%; a fair amount was the choice of 42.9%; just some was the choice of 24.7%; very little was the choice of 11.9%. Trust in scientists was also correlated with political affiliation: 79% of Democrats trusted scientists a great deal or a fair amount, as opposed to 49% of Republicans and 59% of independents.

According to a Duke University press release issued on February 7, 2013, "[t]he Internet survey was conducted Jan. 16-22, 2013[,] by Duke in partnership with KnowledgePanel and involved e-mails to randomly selected households throughout the United States. The margin of error for 1,089 respondents was 3 percentage points. Funding for the survey came from Duke's Climate Policy Working Group."