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Americans are Increasingly “Alarmed” About Global Warming


Americans are Increasingly “Alarmed” About Global Warming

Six in ten Americans are now either “Alarmed” or “Concerned” about global warming. From 2013 to 2018, the proportion of “Alarmed” more than doubled.

Our prior research has categorized Americans into six groups – Global Warming’s Six Americas – based on their climate change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The “Alarmed” are the most worried about global warming and most supportive of aggressive action to reduce carbon pollution. In contrast, the “Dismissive” do not believe global warming is happening or human-caused and strongly oppose climate action. [A short “Six Americas” quiz is now publicly available online.]

Our latest survey in December 2018 finds that the Alarmed segment is at an all-time high (29%) – which is double that segment’s size in 2013 and an 8-point increase since March 2018. Conversely, the Dismissive (9%) and Doubtful (9%) segments have both decreased over the last five years. The percentage of Americans in these two segments has declined by 12 points since 2013.

Although the size of the Concerned segment has remained relatively consistent since 2013, this doesn’t mean that those who were previously Concerned did not change their minds. Rather, it is likely that many who were previously Concerned became Alarmed, and many who were previously Cautious or Disengaged became Concerned. Over the past five years, the U.S. population as a whole has moved away from the Doubtful and Dismissive segments and toward the Alarmed and Concerned segments.

In 2013, the Alarmed and Dismissive were an equal size at 14% of U.S. adults. As of the end of 2018, however, the Alarmed now outnumber the Dismissive more than 3 to 1 (29% vs. 9%), representing a major shift in these two “issue publics” most engaged in the issue of climate change.

Methods

These data were produced from 11 bi-annual waves (n=13,103) of the Climate Change in the American Mind survey — a nationally-representative survey of public opinion on climate change in the United States conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Surveys were conducted from December 2013 to December 2018 using the Ipsos KnowledgePanel® (formerly GfK), a representative online panel of U.S. adults (18+). All questionnaires were self-administered by respondents in a web-based environment.

Average margin of error for the full sample: +/- 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Percentage values are weighted to align with U.S. Census parameters. For tabulation purposes, percentage points are rounded to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given chart may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. Additionally, summed categories (e.g., Alarmed + Concerned) are rounded after sums are calculated (e.g., 29.4% + 30.4% = 59.8%, which, after rounding would appear in the report as 29% + 30% = 60%).