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Climate Beliefs May 2011

Climate Beliefs May 2011

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climate change in the american mind

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in May 2011

Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes in May 2011
Interview dates: April 23, 2011 – May 12, 2011 Interviews: 1,010 Adults (18+) Margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. NOTE: All results show percentages among all respondents, unless otherwise labeled. Totals may occasionally sum to more than 100 percent due to rounding. This study was conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, and was funded by the Surdna Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. Principal Investigators: Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD Yale Project on Climate Change Communication School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University (203) 432-4865 anthony.leiserowitz@yale.edu Edward Maibach, MPH, PhD Center for Climate Change Communication Department of Communication, George Mason University (703) 993-1587 emaibach@gmu.edu Connie Roser-Renouf, PhD Center for Climate Change Communication Department of Communication, George Mason University (707) 825-0601 croserre@gmu.edu Nicholas Smith, PhD Yale Project on Climate Change Communication School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University (203) 432-1208 nicholas.smith@yale.edu Cite as: Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., & Smith, N. (2011) Climate change in the American Mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in May 2011. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. http://environment.yale.edu/climate/files/ClimateBeliefsMay2011.pdf

Q471. Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news. Global warming refers to the idea that the world’s average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world’s climate may change as a result. What do you think? Do you think that global warming is happening? Yes No Don’t Know May 2011 64 18 18 June 2010 61 18 21 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 57 71 20 10 23 19

People who answered yes to question 47 (i.e. those who believe global warming is happening) were asked the following question. Q48. How sure are you that global warming is happening? Extremely sure Very sure Somewhat sure Not at all sure May 2011 21 33 40 6 June 2010 20 37 40 3 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 24 35 35 37 37 24 5 4

People who answered no to question 47 (i.e. those who do not believe global warming is happening) were asked the following question. Q49. How sure are you that global warming is not happening? Extremely sure Very sure Somewhat sure Not at all sure May 2011 21 31 38 11 June 2010 20 31 44 4 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 28 26 31 28 34 38 7 8

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Items are listed in the order they were asked despite occasional non-sequential item numbers. Items not shown in this report are being released separately. Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

Yale / George Mason University

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Q50. Assuming global warming is happening, do you think it is… Caused mostly by human activities Caused mostly by natural changes in the environment None of the above because global warming isn’t happening Caused by both human activities and natural changes (volunteered) Other Don’t know (volunteered) May 2011 47 35 8 8 1 1 June 2010 50 34 6 7 1 1 Jan 2010 47 36 9 6 1 1 Nov 2008 57 32 4 5 1 1

Q54. Personally, how well informed do you feel you are about global warming? Very well informed Fairly well informed Not very well informed Not at all informed May 2011 10 51 34 5 June 2010 12 49 35 3 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q59. Which comes closer to your own view? Most scientists think global warming is happening Most scientists think global warming is not happening There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening Don't know enough to say May 2011 June 2010 39 34 4 40 18 4 45 17 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 34 47 5 40 22 3 33 18

Q30. To the best of your knowledge, what proportion of climate scientists think that global warming is happening? 81 to 100% 61 to 80% 41 to 60% 21 to 40% 0 to 20% Don’t know enough to say May 2011 June 2010 13 19 23 12 3 31 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q31. To the best of your knowledge, what proportion of climate scientists think that global warming is caused mostly by human activities? 81 to 100% 61 to 80% 41 to 60% 21 to 40% 0 to 20% Don’t know enough to say May 2011 June 2010 15 18 18 12 7 32 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q60. How worried are you about global warming? Very worried Somewhat worried Not very worried Not at all worried May 2011 9 43 28 20 June 2010 12 41 30 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 12 17 38 46 27 24 23 13

Q62. How much do you think global warming will harm you personally? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 11 18 28 25 18 June 2010 10 21 27 24 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 14 10 23 22 22 24 31 22 11 23

Q63. How much do you think global warming will harm your family? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 13 21 26 23 18 June 2010 11 25 24 21 19 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 15 11 25 24 21 23 28 19 11 23

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q64. How much do you think global warming will harm people in your community? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 12 22 26 22 18 June 2010 11 25 24 21 19 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 15 13 27 26 22 20 24 17 12 23

Q65. How much do you think global warming will harm people in the United States? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 16 26 23 17 18 June 2010 16 28 22 17 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 22 21 29 28 16 15 22 14 12 22

Q66. How much do you think global warming will harm people in other modern industrialized countries? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 17 25 23 17 19 June 2010 17 28 21 15 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 23 22 29 28 16 13 19 13 13 24

Q67. How much do you think global warming will harm people in developing countries? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 23 22 20 17 19 June 2010 22 28 17 15 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 29 31 25 22 14 11 19 13 13 24

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q68. How much do you think global warming will harm future generations of people? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 37 22 10 12 19 June 2010 39 22 11 12 16 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 42 44 22 17 9 7 15 10 12 22

Q69. How much do you think global warming will harm plant and animal species? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 39 19 12 13 18 June 2010 40 21 12 13 15 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 43 45 19 17 11 8 15 9 12 20

Q69A. How much do you think global warming will harm native plants in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 25 25 17 16 18 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q69B. How much do you think global warming will harm wild animals in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 25 23 18 16 18 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q69C. How much do you think global warming will harm wild birds in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 26 23 18 16 18 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q69D. How much do you think global warming will harm crops in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 28 22 19 14 17 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q69E. How much do you think global warming will harm pets in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 20 19 22 21 19 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q69F. How much do you think global warming will harm people’s private property (e.g., homes, cars, boats) in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 11 18 25 27 20 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q69G. How much do you think global warming will harm public property (e.g., roads, schools, sewer systems and public buildings) in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 13 20 22 25 20 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q69H. How much do you think global warming will harm outdoor recreational places (e.g., parks, beaches, lakes, rivers, forests) in your area? A great deal A moderate amount Only a little Not at all Don’t know May 2011 20 24 20 18 19 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q70. When do you think global warming will start to harm people in the United States? They are being harmed now In 10 years In 25 years In 50 years In 100 years Never May 2011 32 12 13 12 11 20 June 2010 29 12 12 13 15 19 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 25 34 12 13 14 13 13 13 13 12 23 15

Q71. When do you think global warming will start to harm other people around the world? They are being harmed now In 10 years In 25 years In 50 years In 100 years Never May 2011 34 12 12 12 11 19 June 2010 32 11 13 12 13 18 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 28 38 13 13 12 12 12 12 13 11 22 14

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q61. How concerned are you about the impact of global warming on your health? (Measured on a scale from 1-7, with one being “not at all concerned” and seven being “extremely concerned”. Seven (Extremely concerned) Six Five Four Three Two One (Not at all concerned) May 2011 11 8 14 18 13 13 25 June 2010 8 9 14 22 9 14 25 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 7 7 14 17 12 13 29 -

Q61A. How concerned are you about the impact of global warming on the health of other Americans? Seven (Extremely concerned) Six Five Four Three Two One (Not at all concerned) May 2011 11 8 15 17 12 13 24 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q61B – Q61J. In the United States over the next 20 years, do you think global warming will cause more or less of the following, if nothing is done to address it: Deaths and injuries from hurricanes Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 30 25 23 1 2 20 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Deaths and injuries from floods Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 31 24 24 1 2 18 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Deaths and injuries from severe winter storms Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 29 24 25 1 2 19 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Asthma and other diseases of the lungs Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 24 23 27 2 2 22 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Cholera and other diseases carried by infected water Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 21 22 31 2 2 22 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Diseases carried by insects, such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and dengue fever Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know Heat stroke Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know Deaths and injuries from wildfires Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 26 28 25 1 2 18 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 26 27 25 1 2 20 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 21 24 29 1 2 22 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Increased malnutrition as a result of spikes in food prices Many more A few more No difference A few less Many less Don’t know May 2011 27 23 26 2 2 21 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q62A – Q62F. Some people say that global warming is already impacting the United States. Do you agree or disagree that global warming is already causing or making the following things worse, or do you not know? Rivers flooding Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Coastline erosion and flooding Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Wildfires Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Hurricanes Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know May 2011 19 30 14 14 23 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 17 28 16 15 25 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 17 35 12 14 23 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 17 31 14 14 25 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Droughts Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know Damage from pine-bark beetles Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree Don’t know May 2011 9 17 15 14 46 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 19 31 13 14 23 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q72. How much had you thought about global warming before today? A lot Some A little Not at all May 2011 12 33 38 16 June 2010 18 37 32 13 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 15 20 31 35 36 33 18 12

Q73. How important is the issue of global warming to you personally? Extremely important Very important Somewhat important Not too important Not at all important May 2011 7 15 38 25 14 June 2010 6 18 39 24 14 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 11 15 21 38 40 23 18 20 11

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q74. On some issues people feel that they have all the information they need in order to form a firm opinion, while on other issues they would like more information before making up their mind. For global warming, where would you place yourself? I need a lot more information I need some more information I need a little more information I do not need any more information May 2011 22 30 25 23 June 2010 20 27 29 24 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 22 30 23 30 26 22 29 18

Q75. How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “I could easily change my mind about global warming.” Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 6 32 33 29 June 2010 5 32 36 27 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 5 30 28 31 34 34 34

Q135. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view? May 2011 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 41 25 18 11 5 47 21 18 10 10 45 17 15 13 6 51 22 16 5

Humans can reduce global warming, and we are going to do so successfully Humans could reduce global warming, but it’s unclear at this point whether we will do what’s needed Humans could reduce global warming, but people aren’t willing to change their behavior, so we’re not going to Humans can’t reduce global warming, even if it is happening Global warming isn’t happening

Q161. How much do you trust or distrust the following as a source of information about global warming? Television weather reporters Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 5 47 34 14 June 2010 5 56 28 11 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 6 51 60 30 25 14 10

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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The mainstream news media Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust Scientists Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust President Obama Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 11 35 24 30 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 16 13 35 38 21 23 28 26 May 2011 21 55 19 5 June 2010 26 55 15 4 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 22 28 52 54 19 14 7 4 May 2011 4 34 37 25 June 2010 3 42 34 22 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 3 4 33 43 35 33 29 20

Your U.S. Congressman/Congresswoman Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 2 34 39 24 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 15 47 26 12 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 11 48 28 13 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 14 55 23 8 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust The National Park Service Strongly trust Somewhat trust Somewhat distrust Strongly distrust May 2011 12 61 20 6 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 May 2011 22 54 18 6 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q235. The actions of a single individual won’t make any difference in global warming. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 15 31 36 19 June 2010 13 29 43 15 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 17 9 29 22 37 45 17 24

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q237. New technologies can solve global warming, without individuals having to make big changes in their lives. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 7 40 33 21 June 2010 6 33 40 21 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 6 4 42 26 33 46 19 25

Q238. Most of my friends are trying to act in ways that reduce global warming. May 2011 4 41 38 18 June 2010 5 47 36 12 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 4 43 44 37 40 14 11

Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree

Q238A. With the economy in such bad shape, the US can’t afford to reduce global warming. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 15 37 33 16 June 2010 13 30 42 15 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q238B. The record heat waves last summer in the United States strengthened my belief that global warming is occurring. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 13 41 26 20 June 2010 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Q238C. The record snowstorms this winter in the eastern United States make me question whether global warming is occurring. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 13 34 30 24 June 2010 17 35 29 20 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 -

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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Q236. I have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Strongly agree Somewhat agree Somewhat disagree Strongly disagree May 2011 5 29 34 32 June 2010 5 25 35 35 Jan 2010 Nov 2008 5 4 21 29 35 43 40 24

Methodology These results come from nationally representative surveys of American adults, aged 18 and older. The samples were weighted to correspond with US Census Bureau parameters for the United States. The surveys were designed by Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University and Edward Maibach and Connie Roser-Renouf of George Mason University and conducted by Knowledge Networks, using an online research panel of American adults. • • • • May 2011: Fielded April 23 through May 12 with 1,010 American adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent, with 95 percent confidence. June 2010: Fielded May 14 through June 1 with 1,024 American adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent, with 95 percent confidence. January 2010: Fielded December 24, 2009 through January 3, 2010 with 1,001 American adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent, with 95 percent confidence. November 2008: Fielded October 7 through November 12 with 2,164 American adults. Data was collected in two waves: wave 1 from October 7 through October 20 and wave 2 from October 24 through November 12. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percent, with 95 percent confidence.

Yale / George Mason University

Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs & Attitudes: May 2011

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