Big shift in Americans who believe in global warming, poll says30 October 2015 | by Sean Smith
Fewer Americans than ever believe that there is no evidence of global warming, while a record number have come to view global warming as a reality because of effects they have personally seen.
The poll by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy also saw a 15 percentage point drop in people who describe themselves as Republicans being climate change deniers.
The study showed that 70 per cent of those polled believe evidence supporting global warming - a 10 percentage point increase from the same time last year.
“People are often responding to their perception of weather or weather experience,” said Barry Rabe, professor of public policy and environmental policy at the University of Michigan, and a co-author of the poll. “Rather than look at scientific journals or UN reports, they have a tendency to look at what last summer or winter was like. So the drought issue has gone up dramatically.”
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For the first time since the school began polling on the issue in 2008, a majority of Republicans (56 per cent) believe that there is evidence to support global warming.
“The big shift here is amongst Republicans, and it is a huge one,” said Mr Rabe. “Most survey work has found a gaping divide between self-identified Democrats and Republicans on this issue for many years now. This suggests that those differences still persist, but have declined significantly. We did not anticipate this.”
This is at odds with what the main contenders for the Republican nomination for the presidency are saying on climate change.
Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio said last year that: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”
California is currently suffering one of its worst droughts on record (PA)
His latest plan on energy includes completing the construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will pump oil from Alaska to the rest of the US. He will permit more offshore oil and gas drilling and nullify an international climate change accord being pursued by President Barack Obama.
He will also push forward on fracking.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s policy is aimed at getting oil “the lifeblood” of the US as cheap as possible.
Ben Carson is a climate change denier who believes that the debate is “irrelevant”: “There's always going to be either cooling or warming going on,” he has said.
Jeb Bush has indicated that he is a sceptic on climate change but that he is prepared to listen to the evidence of scientists.
Democrats, on the other hand, are falling over themselves to show their green credentials: Hillary Clinton has pledged $100bn to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while Bernie Sanders says that his ultimate goal is to address climate change so we can “leave the planet to our kids”.
In the poll, 79 per cent of those claiming to be Democrats believe that there was solid evidence for global warming.
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