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Climate Change in the American Mind April 2014

Climate Change in the American Mind April 2014

The reality of climate change – worldwide and in the United States – is a well-established scientific fact. The first finding in the recently released 2014 National Climate Assessment (written and reviewed by hundreds of climate experts over the past 4 years), for example, concluded: “Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.”

(Bars show the difference between each decade’s average temperature and the overall average for 1901 to 2000. The far right bar includes data for 2001-2012. Source: U.S. National Climate Assessment).

Our most recent survey, conducted in April, 2014, finds that by more than a three-to-one margin, more Americans think global warming is happening than think it is not. Currently, 64% of Americans think global is happening, a number that has been relatively stable over the past three years.

Our survey also shows that Americans’ certainty that the Earth is warming has increased over the past three years. Currently, of those who think global warming is happening, nearly two in three (62%) say they are either extremely (30%) or very (32%) sure that it is. Three years ago, in May 2011, fewer (54%) were as sure. And over the same three-year period, those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position (from 52% in May 2011, to 41% today).

These findings are notable in light of the fact that the survey was conducted shortly after much of the country experienced a particularly cold winter, including the “polar vortex”, suggesting that Americans’ growing certainty that global warming is happening was relatively unaffected by their recent experience of extreme cold weather.

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: April 11 - 21, 2014. Interviews: 1,013 Adults (18+).
Total average margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The research was funded by the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, and the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation.