A nationally representative survey finds that the terms “global warming” and “climate change” often mean different things to Americans—and activate different sets of beliefs, feelings, and behaviors, as well as different degrees of urgency about the need to respond.Attitudes & Beliefs Citizen Behavior Emotion / Affect / Imagery Knowledge / Climate Literacy Policy Support Risk Perceptions
Emotion / Affect / Imagery
Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in November 2013
The most recent national Climate Change in the American Mind survey found that 1 in 4 Americans think that global warming is not happening, and half say they are "worried" about it.
Other highlights include:
- There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013). But about two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening, a number that has been consistent since spring 2013.
- The proportion of Americans who say they “don’t know” whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points – from 20% to 14% – since spring of 2013.
- About half of Americans (51%) say they are “somewhat” (38%) or “very worried” (15%) about global warming.
- Fewer than half of Americans (38%) believe they personally will be harmed a “moderate amount” or a “great deal” by global warming.
- By contrast, majorities believe that global warming will harm future generations of people (65%) and plant and animal species (65%).
- About four in 10 say they feel “helpless” (43%), “disgusted” (42%), or “sad” (40%) when thinking about global warming.
- By contrast, four in ten (42%), say they feel “hopeful” about the subject.
On October 2, 2013, YPCCC Director Anthony Leiserowitz sat down with Dale Jamieson, Kate Orff, and Paul Lewis for a panel on "Climate Change and the American Mind" as a part of the Architecture League of New York's "The 5000 Pound Life" event.
Attitudes & Beliefs Emotion / Affect / Imagery Knowledge / Climate Literacy Outreach Projects Risk Perceptions Six Americas
In the past decade, the images and feelings Americans associate with the term “global warming” have shifted dramatically. We recently published an article in the journal Risk Analysis that identifies and analyzes these shifts in the connotative meaning of “global warming.”
The graph below summarizes how Americans’ associations to “global warming” changed from 2003 to 2010 (more data can be found in the paper).
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