American public opinion on climate change from Climate Insights 2020

There are a few encouraging signs about American public opinion on climate change, according to Climate Insights 2020, a report on a recent survey conducted by researchers at Stanford University, Resources for the Future, and ReconMR.

Asked whether they believe that Earth's temperature "has probably been increasing" over the past 100 years, 81 percent of respondents agreed, which was "among the largest percentages observed since this surveying began in 1997," according to the report. And 76 percent of respondents agreed that Earth's temperature will probably go up over the next 100 years.

When asked whether global warming was caused primarily by human activity, primarily by natural processes, or by both about equally, 82 percent of respondents attributed it to human activity. "[T]he proportion of Americans who attribute this warming to human activity ... has remained fairly steady over the last 23 years," the report observed.

Asked to estimate what percent of climate scientists accept global warming, 71 percent opted for more than 50 percent, 5 percent opted for 50 percent exactly, and 16 percent opted for less than 50 percent. "Perceptions of agreement among climate scientists have been increasing steadily since 2010," when only 58 percent opted for more than 50 percent.

The survey was conducted by telephone among a representative sample of 999 adults nationwide from May 28 to August 16, 2020; the margin of error was +/- 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the full sample.

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

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