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Climate Change in the American Mind: April 2020

7. How Americans Conceptualize Global Warming

7.1. Americans are most likely to think of global warming as an environmental and/or scientific issue.

Global warming is a complex challenge with many dimensions. Understanding how people conceptualize the issue is critical to formulating effective communication strategies.

A large majority of Americans think global warming is an environmental issue (82%) and a scientific issue (74%). Half or more think global warming is an agricultural (67%), severe weather (64%), economic (64%), humanitarian (61%), health (60%), political (60%), and/or moral (50%) issue.

Fewer think global warming is a poverty (32%), national security (31%), social justice (29%), and/or religious (9%) issue.

The proportion of Americans who consider global warming a moral issue has increased by 12 percentage points since the last time we asked this question (one year ago, in April 2019), and the percentages who consider it an economic and a humanitarian issue have both increased by ten percentage points since then.