58% believe humans cause warming — poll

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 6, 2017

Most Americans believe climate change is caused by human activities, according to a survey conducted by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication.

Seventy percent of Americans believe climate change is happening, and 58 percent believe it is caused by human emissions, the highest number since researchers began the biannual survey in 2008.

More than half the people surveyed were at least “somewhat worried” about the threats posed by warming global temperatures, though most perceive climate change to be a distant threat that will mostly affect future generations.

The findings come as the Trump administration seeks to withdraw the U.S. from global efforts to fight climate change and slash Obama-era regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

A League of Conservation Voters poll last week found that about half of voters took issue with the administration’s environmental policies and that most Americans disapprove of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement (E&E Daily, June 30).

The Yale survey, which polled more than 1,200 American adults online with a margin of error of 3 points, also found that respondents were split on how they think about climate change. Half said they thought “a lot” or “some” about climate change, while the other half said they thought about the issue “a little” or “not at all.”

Still, more than half the survey’s respondents said the issue of global warming is at least “somewhat” important to them personally.

Nearly 80 percent, meanwhile, said American schools should teach children about causes, consequences and potential solutions to global climate change.

But Americans aren’t optimistic for the future.

Seven percent of respondents said humans can and will successfully reduce global warming, compared with more than 20 percent who said curbing climate change is impossible because humans are unwilling to change their behavior.