AMERICAN WORRIES ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING SURGE TO ALL-TIME HIGHS: Nearly 3 in 4 view the issue as ‘personally important’

January 22, 2019 – (New Haven, CT) A new nationally representative survey finds that a large majority of Americans say the issue of global warming is personally important to them, outnumbering those who don’t by more than a 2 to 1 margin. The percentage of Americans who say global warming is personally important is now at a record high (72%), up 9 percentage points since March 2018.

“After a year of devastating extreme events, dire scientific reports, and growing media coverage of climate change, a record number of Americans are convinced that human-caused global warming is happening, are increasingly worried, and say the issue is personally important to them,” said lead researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, PhD. of Yale University.

Other record highs include:

  • 73% of Americans think global warming is happening, an increase of 3 percentage points since March 2018.
  • 62% of Americans understand that global warming is mostly human-caused (+4 points since March 2018). By contrast, a record low 23% say it is due mostly to natural changes in the environment (-5 since March 2018).
  • 69% of Americans are worried about global warming, including 29% who are “very worried”, an 8-point increase since March 2018.
  • 65% think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, and 32% think weather is being affected “a lot”. About half think global warming made the 2018 wildfires in the western U.S. (50%) and/or hurricanes Florence and Michael (49%) worse.
  • 48% think people in the United States are being harmed by global warming “right now” – an increase of 9 percentage points since March 2018.
  • About half of Americans think they personally (49%, +7 points since March 2018) and/or their family (56%, +9) will be harmed by global warming. Majorities think global warming will harm people in their community (57%, +8 points), people in the U.S. (65%, +7 points), people in developing countries (68%, +6 points), the world’s poor (67%, +4 points), future generations of people (75%, +4 points) and/or plant and animal species (74%, +3 points).

“Global warming used to be viewed as a problem distant in time and space,” said co-lead researcher Ed Maibach, Ph.D. of George Mason University. “But Americans increasingly understand that global warming is here and now and are growing concerned about the threat to themselves, their communities, and the nation.”

These findings come from a nationally representative survey (Climate Change in the American Mind) conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The survey of 1,114 American adults, aged 18 and older, was conducted November 28 – December 11, 2018 on the Ipsos KnowledgePanel.

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.

In addition to Drs. Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach, principal investigators included Drs. Seth Rosenthal, Matthew Ballew, Matthew Goldberg, and Abel Gustafson of Yale University and John Kotcher of George Mason University.

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