Monday, October 1, 2007
New study finds sea change in Americans' views on Climate Change
A growing number of Americans consider global warming an important threat that calls for drastic action, and 40% say that a presidential candidate's position on the issue will strongly influence how they vote, according to a national survey conducted by Yale University, Gallup and the ClearVision Institute.
One of the most surprising findings was the growing sense of urgency, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change and the study's principal investigator. Nearly half of Americans now believe that global warming is either already having dangerous impacts on people around the world or will in the next 10 years - a 20-percentage-point increase since 2004. These results indicate a sea change in public opinion.
'When do you think global warming will start to have dangerous impacts on people around the world - is it having dangerous impacts now, will it have dangerous impacts in 10 years, in 25 years, in 50 years, in 100 years, or will it never have dangerous impacts?'The survey's findings further include:
62% percent of respondents believe that life on earth will continue without major disruptions only if society takes immediate and drastic action to reduce global warming.
68% of Americans support a new international treaty requiring the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050. Yet, Leiserowitz notes, the United States has yet to sign the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that would require the United States to cut its emissions 7 percent by the year 2012.
A surprising 40% of respondents say a presidential candidate's position on global warming will be either extremely important (16 percent) or very important (24 percent) when casting their ballots. With the presidential primaries and general election near, candidates should recognize that global warming has become an important issue for the electorate.
85% of those polled support requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trucks and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon, even if it meant a new car would cost up to $500 more; and 82 percent support requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year.
50% of respondents say they are personally worried - 15 percent say a 'great deal' - about global warming.Many Americans, however, believe that global warming is a very serious threat to other species, people and places far away, said Leiserowitz, but not so serious of a threat to themselves, their own families or local communities. Nonetheless, they do strongly support a number of national and international policies to address this problem:
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The survey was conducted July 23-26, 2007, using telephone interviews with 1,011 adults, aged 18-plus. Respondents came from Gallup's household panel, which was originally recruited through random selection methods. The final sample is considered to be representative of U.S. adults nationwide, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The Yale Project on Climate Change at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies supports public discourse and engagement with climate-change solutions.Gallup, Inc., headquartered in Washington, D.C., is one of the world's leading research companies focusing on studying human nature and behavior. The Gallup Poll has been monitoring U.S. public opinion since 1935, and Gallup now tracks public opinion in over 100 countries worldwide on an ongoing basis.
The ClearVision Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to applying entertainment education as a social-change strategy to address climate change through U.S. commercial television.References:Yale University, Gallup, ClearVision Institute: American Opinions on Global Warming [*.pdf].