While it may be difficult to ascertain exactly who or what prompted this massive shift in public perception, whether it was Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the increasing amount of coverage surrounding melting ice and rising seas or a combination thereof, one thing is clear: more Americans than ever are concerned about the threat of global warming. Indeed, the number of Americans who cited climate change as the world's biggest environmental problem more than doubled from 2006 to 2007 (16% to 33%) according to polls taken by The Washington Post, Time, ABC and Stanford University. There had previously been some concerns among scientists and members of the world community over the United States' perceived insouciance over the issue of global warming, a view that was bolstered by a recent poll showing American citizens lagging other countries in their perception of the danger posed by anthropogenic global warming.
Polling data from 16 surveys was compiled over the past year by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a research group, and analyzed at a recent public briefing by Jon Krosnick, a professor of communication, political science, and psychology at Stanford University. Some of the findings were striking in the clear shift in public perception they reflected.
Some highlights include:
- Several polls find that approximately half or more Americans believe global warming is happening.
- 76% of Americans think the effects of global warming are apparent now. —Center for American Progress, April 2007
- 82% believe global warming exists, an increase of 5 points since 2005. —Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Corp., February 2007
- 49% believe global warming is having a serious impact now, up 14 points since 2001. —CBS News/New York Times, April 2007
- 94% of Americans say they’re willing to make changes in their lives to help the environment in general; 80% say they would make changes even if it means some personal inconvenience. 67% say they would keep their home warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter. —Washington Post/Time/ABC/Stanford University, April 2007
- 52% want global warming to be a high priority for government leaders. —CBS News/New York Times, April 2007
Full poll results and a video presentation of EESI's briefing can be found at the research group's website.
See also: ::In America, Global Warming Doesn't Even Register., ::New US Poll Finds Majority Of Both Political Parties Want Industry Limits on Greenhouse Emissions, ::Walk (and Poll) Against Warming, ::Harris Poll: US Residents Support Environmental Regulation