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Global Warming’s Six Americas 2010

In 2009 we identified six distinct “Americas” when it comes to the issue of global warming. One year later, we are releasing a report on the status of these six key audiences.

We have found that one of these groups: the “Dismissive” – who believe global warming is not happening and probably a hoax – has more than doubled in size since 2008 to 16 percent of the American public.

Meanwhile, the percentage of the “Alarmed” – Americans who are the most convinced that global warming is happening, caused by humans, and a serious and urgent threat – has dropped to 10 percent, from 18 percent in 2008. Shifts also occurred among the four other groups:

  • The “Concerned” – Americans who believe global warming is a serious problem and support an active national response, but are less personally involved – have dropped to 29 percent of the public, down from 33 percent in 2008.
  • The “Cautious” – who believe global warming is a problem, but not urgent, and are unsure whether it is human caused – increased to 27 percent, from 19 percent in 2008.
  • The “Disengaged” – Americans who do not know much about global warming or whether it is happening, and have not thought much about it – decreased to 6 percent, down from 12 percent in 2008.
  • Finally, the “Doubtful” – who are not sure whether global warming is happening, but believe that, if it is, is natural and a distant threat – increased slightly to 13 percent, from 11 percent in 2008.

We believe that gloomy unemployment numbers, public frustration with Washington, attacks on climate science, and mobilized opposition to national climate legislation represent a ‘perfect storm’ of events that have diminished public concerns about global warming – even among the Alarmed.

Surprisingly, however, majorities in all six groups say that developing sources of clean energy should be a priority for President Obama and Congress, and strongly support more funding for research into renewable energy sources and tax rebates for people who buy energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.

Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which is currently being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency, is supported by almost all of the groups, including 91 percent of the Alarmed; 93 percent of the Concerned; 79 percent of the Cautious; 92 percent of the Disengaged; and 52 percent of the Doubtful. Only the Dismissive oppose regulation of carbon dioxide, with only 15 percent supporting the policy.