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A new Pew poll on global warming

Pew Research Center

A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked about global warming and its causes. A press release summarizes, "The survey ... finds that 69% say there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. That is little changed from last October (67%), but up 12 points since October 2009. At the same time, however, the percentage of Americans who say that global warming is a very serious problem has slipped six points, from 39% to 33%, since last October. Current opinions about whether global warming is a very serious problem are similar to those in 2009 and 2010."

Asked, "From what you've read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?" 69% of respondents said yes, 27% said no, 1% said that the evidence was mixed, and 4% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. The Pew Research Center asked the same question at intervals from June 2006 onward; acceptance of global warming was at its highest in July 2006, with 79% of respondents answering that there is solid evidence for it, and at its lowest in February/March 2011, with 58% answering that there is solid evidence for it.

Of the 69% who said yes, 42% agreed that the warming was mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels, 23% agreed that it was mostly because of natural patterns in the earth's environment, and 4% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. The Pew Research Center asked the same question at intervals from June 2006 onward; acceptance of the human cause of global warming was at its highest in July 2006, with 50% of respondents attributing global warming mostly to human activity, and at its lowest in October 2010, with 34% attributing global warming mostly to human activity.

Asked, "In your view, is global warming a very serious problem, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not a problem?" 33% of respondents said that it was very serious, 32% said that it is somewhat serious, 13% said that it not too serious, 20% said that it not a problem, and 2% said that they didn't know or refused to answer the question. In past polls, the greatest percentage of respondents regarding global warming as a very serious problem was 47%, in April/May 2009, and the lowest percentage was 32%, in October 2010. A majority of respondents have always regarded global warming as somewhat or very serious.

The press release commented, "There has been a sizable partisan gap in views about whether there is solid evidence of global warming since the Pew Research Center began asking this question in 2006. In the current survey, almost twice as many Democrats (87%) as Republicans (44%) say there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been rising. Further, Democrats are three times as likely as Republicans to say that human activity is mostly causing global warming (57% vs. 19%)." There was a similar gap with regard to the seriousness of global warming: 48% of Democrats regarded it as very serious but only 19% of Republicans agreed.

According to the Pew Research Center, "The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 13-17, 2013, among a national sample of 1,501 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (750 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 751 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 385 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by Abt SRBI." The sample was weighted using demographic considerations and to match current "current patterns of telephone status and relative usage of landline and cell phones." The sample error for the total sample was +/ 2.9%.