Even sci­ence skep­tics warm­ing to cli­mate change, poll finds

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By seth Boren­stein

WASHINGTON — A grow­ing ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans think global warm­ing is oc­cur­ring, that it will be­come a se­ri­ous prob­lem and that the U.S. government should do some­thing about it, a new As­so­ci­ated Press-GfK poll finds.

Even most peo­ple who say they don’t trust sci­en­tists on the en­vi­ron­ment say tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing.

The poll found four out of ev­ery five Amer­i­cans said cli­mate change will be a se­ri­ous prob­lem for the United States if noth­ing is done about it. That’s up from 73 per­cent when the same ques­tion was asked in 2009.

And 57 per­cent of Amer­i­cans say the U.S. government should do a great deal or quite a bit about the prob­lem. That’s up from 52 per­cent in 2009. Only 22 per­cent of those sur­veyed think lit­tle or noth­ing should be done, a fig­ure that dropped from 25 per­cent.

Over­all, 78 per­cent of those sur­veyed said they be­lieve tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing, up from 75 per­cent three years ear­lier. In gen­eral, U.S. be­lief in global warm­ing, ac­cord­ing to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluc­tu­ated through the years but has stayed be­tween about 70 per­cent and 85 per­cent.

The big­gest change in the polling is among peo­ple who trust sci­en­tists only a lit­tle or not at all. About 1 in 3 of the peo­ple sur­veyed fell into that cat­e­gory.

Within that highly skep­ti­cal group, 61 per­cent now say tem­per­a­tures have been ris­ing in the past 100 years. That’s a sub­stan­tial in­crease from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 per­cent of those with lit­tle or no trust in sci­en­tists be­lieved the world was get­ting warmer.

This is an im­por­tant devel­op­ment be­cause, of­ten in the past, opin­ion about cli­mate change doesn’t move much in core groups — like those who deny it ex­ists and those who firmly be­lieve it’s an alarming prob­lem, said Jon Krosnick, a Stan­ford Univer­sity so­cial psy­chol­o­gist and poll­ster. Krosnick, who con­sulted on the poll ques­tions, said the changes the poll shows aren’t in the hard­core “anti-warm­ing” de­niers, but in the next group, who had se­ri­ous doubts.

“They don’t be­lieve what the sci­en­tists say; they be­lieve what the ther­mome­ters say,” Krosnick said. “Events are help­ing th­ese peo­ple see what sci­en­tists thought they had been see­ing all along.”

Phil Adams, a re­tired free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher from Washington, N.C., said he was “fairly cyn- ical” about sci­en­tists and their the­o­ries. But he be­lieves very much in cli­mate change be­cause of what he’s seen with his own eyes.

“Hav­ing lived for 67 years, we con­sis­tently see more and more changes based upon the fact that the weather is warmer,” he said. “The sea­sons are more se­vere. The cli­mate is def­i­nitely get­ting warmer.”

Bro­ken down by po­lit­i­cal party, 83 per­cent of Democrats and 70 per­cent of Repub­li­cans say the world is get­ting warmer. And 77 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents say tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing.

About one in four peo­ple sur­veyed think that ef­forts to curb global warm­ing would hurt the Amer­i­can econ­omy, a fig­ure down slightly from 27 per­cent in 2009 when the econ­omy was in worse shape.

The poll was con­ducted Nov. 29-Dec. 3. It in­volved land-line and cell­phone in­ter­views with 1,002 adults na­tion­wide. Re­sults for the full sam­ple have a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 3.9 per­cent­age points.

NATI HAR­NICK / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS 2012

A dry corn­field re­ceives some rain near Blair, Neb., in Au­gust. Nearly four out of five Amer­i­cans now think global warm­ing will be a se­ri­ous prob­lem if noth­ing is done about it, a new poll finds.

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