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More Americans Think Most Scientists Disagree that Global Warming is Happening; Fewer Trust Scientists 12/13/10
01/10/2010 | Marilyn Sigman, Alaska SeaGrant/MAP
Tags: Communicating about Climate Change, Ocean and Climate Literacy

The Washington Post and ABC News conducted a telephone poll of about 1,000 Americans on December 13 during the Copenhagen Climate Conference which included questions to gauge whether Americans think that scientists agree that global warming is happening, how much they trust scientists, and their own attitudes about efforts to reduce green house gas emissions.

The poll conducted on December 13 during the Copenhagen Climate Conference found that only 36% of the people polled believed that "most scientists believe global warming is happening" and 62% believed that “most disagreed.” The question has been included in similar polls conducted since October, 1997. The recent publicity about leaked climate scientist emails may have had an effect. The percentage of people believing that most scientists agreed in July, 2008, was down by 3%, the percentage who believed that most scientists disagreed was up by 5%, and the percentage with “no opinion” was down by 2%. The percentage of people who believe most scientists agree has never risen about 40% (April, 2007 poll).

Other statistics reported from the poll include:
The percentage of people who trust the things scientists say about the environment either completely or a lot was 29%, 30% said “a moderate amount,” and 40% said “a little” or “not at all.” The percentage of people who answered “a moderate amount” in 2009 was down from 39% from the 2008 poll, and the percentage of people who answered that they trusted scientists “a little” (26%) or “not at all” (14%) was up by 10%, with the percentage in the “not at all” double that reported in 2008. Of those who answered they trusted scientists “a moderate amount” in 2009, 41% leaned toward the trust end of the spectrum; 56% leaned toward the “do not trust” end.

Questions related to greenhouse gas emissions were asked for the first time in 2009. In December, the majority (65%) supported government regulation (down from 75% earlier in the year), 60% supported measures even if they raised their energy costs by $10/month, and 55% supported measures that would raise energy costs by $25. The majority (57%) opposed providing $10 billion/year to developing countries to help them control emissions.

Full poll results
(See Questions 26-32; this was a wide-ranging survey on attitudes towards health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, and professional golf in relation to Tiger Woods.)

<< Highlights of AAAS Conference on Promoting Climate Literacy through Informal Education Back to Blogs - Home Americans Ready to Act to Sustain Oceans; Kids Know and Care Most 12/18/09 >>