The Climate Change In The American Mind Series - Spring 2014

In Spring 2014, we conducted our latest national survey on Americans’ climate change and energy beliefs, attitudes, policy support, and behavior.This report is based on findings 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.

Climate Change in the American Mind

The first report shows that of those Americans 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. Also, Americans continue to be unaware of the extent of scientific consensus on climate change. Only one in ten Americans (12%) know that 90% or more scientists have concluded human- caused global warming is happening. More than twice as many Americans – about three in ten (28%) – think fewer than half of climate scientists have reached this conclusion. You can download the report here: Climate Change in the American Mind, April 2014

Politics & Global Warming

We find that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Further, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming.Many Americans are also willing to act politically:

  • 26% are willing to join or are currently participating in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming;

  • 37% are willing to sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views on global warming;

  • 13% are willing to personally engage in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse.

The study also finds that while Democrats are more convinced that human-caused global warming is happening and more supportive of climate and energy policies than Republicans, there are deep divisions within the Republican Party. In many respects, liberal/moderate Republicans – about a third of the Republican party – are relatively similar to moderate/conservative Democrats, while conservative Republicans often express views about global warming that are distinctly different than the rest of the American public.For example, among registered voters:

  • 88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans;

  • 81% of Democrats and 51% of liberal/moderate Republicans are worried about global warming, compared to only 19% of conservative Republicans;

  • 82% of Democrats and 65% of liberal/moderate Republicans support strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, compared to only 31% of conservative Republicans.

The report includes an executive summary and many more interesting findings about how Democrats, Republicans and Independents think about global warming, what policies they support or oppose, and the different types of political activism they are willing to engage in. It can be downloaded here: Politics & Global Warming, Spring 2014.