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Climate Change in the American Mind: May 2017


4. Personal and Social Engagement with Global Warming

4.1. Only one in three Americans discuss global warming with family and friends “often” or “occasionally.”

Thirty-three percent of Americans say they discuss global warming with family and friends at least occasionally, while most say they rarely or never discuss it (67%).

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4.2. Fewer than half of Americans hear about global warming in the media or from people they know at least once a month.

Only about four in ten Americans (43%) hear about global warming in the media once a month or more frequently, compared with 35% who hear about it only several times a year or less, and an additional 9% who never hear about it.

Only one in five (19%) hear people they know talking about global warming once a month or more. In contrast, 42% hear people they know talking about it only several times a year or less, and more than one in four (28%) never hear people they know talk about global warming.

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4.3. The issue of global warming is at least “somewhat” important to six in ten Americans.

About six in ten Americans (63%) say the issue of global warming is either “extremely” (10%), “very” (16%), or “somewhat” (38%) important to them personally. About four in ten (37%) say it is either “not too” (22%) or “not at all” (15%) important personally.

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4.4. Half of Americans have thought about global warming at least “some.”

Half of Americans say they have thought about global warming before today either “a lot” (18%) or “some” (31%). The other half say they have thought about global warming just “a little” (33%) or “not at all” (17%). These numbers have remained relatively stable since we first conducted this survey in 2008 (see Data Tables).

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4.5. Americans say schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming.

The Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in the U.S.The Next Generation Science Standards were developed by a collaboration of scientists and educators at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy for the Advancement of Science; the National Teacher’s Association; 26 states; and Achieve (a non-profit organization). Released in 2013, the standards represent the most current, research-based method of educating K-12 students in STEM and preparing them for STEM careers. See: http://www.nextgenscience.org/ require that climate change be included in the curriculum, a mandate that is controversial in some parts of the country. Overall, however, a large majority of Americans support teaching about global warming in schools: By a large margin, Americans say that schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming (78% agree “strongly” or “somewhat” versus 21% who disagree “strongly” or “somewhat”).

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