December 7th, 2009
04:01 PM ET
6 months ago

CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?

CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?.
CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?.

Washington (CNN) – A rise in skepticism among Americans over global warming is mostly due to changes among Republicans, according to new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Monday, indicates that two-thirds of all Americans believe global warming is a proven fact. That's down eight points since June of 2008, with views among Democrats holding steady while Republicans' belief in global warming dropping 11 points.

Full results (pdf)

"The growing skepticism among Republicans, with no matching shift among Democrats, suggests that the changes measured in this poll may be a reaction to having a Democrat in the White House rather than a shift in underlying attitudes toward global warming," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll's release come as a United Nations climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Denmark. That global conference began under a cloud of accusations, after international attention the past two weeks over hacked e-mails that suggest some scientists faked data to support the argument of global warming. But Holland notes that polls released last month from other organizations have found similar shifts in views on global warming for several months. He says that indicates the changes in the new CNN survey are not the direct result of the media attention to the leaked e-mails from climate researchers.

iReport: Share your thoughts on climate change.

According to the survey, roughly a third of the people who believe in global warming think it is due to natural causes, rather than manmade causes such as industrial emissions. As a result, the number who say that global warming is caused by humans has dropped from 54 percent last summer to 45 percent now.

The poll indicates the number who say the U.S. should reduce emissions even if other countries do not follow suit has also dropped, from 66 percent in 2007 to 58 percent today.

"That drop is due to roughly equal changes among Republicans and Democrats, suggesting that economic conditions, rather than political factors, may be at play," noted Holland.

Why do a majority support lowering emissions when most Americans no longer think emissions cause global warming? "Americans may have other reasons to support a reduction in carbon dioxide and other gases," Holland says. "Pollution is pollution, and the country has been worried about clean air long before global warming became a topic of discussion."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 2-3, with 1,041 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percent for the overall sample.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Global Warming • Popular Posts
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Just Me

    The sceptics are ignorance of science. You have to be able to understand science in order to appreciate global warming.

    December 7, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Economist

    Climate change is a matter of science, not public popularity. It's the role of the media to explain the facts and influence public opinion towards the truth. Unfortunately, our for-profit media outlets have too little spine to say anything that would offend their viewers, so instead we get some sort false equivalence on either side of the climate change issue - only one side can be correct, and responsible news agencies would report this.

    December 7, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. All the news that's fit to omit

    That is because the progressive sheep ONLY get their information from the lamestream media who simply chose to report when any of the LIES are debunked which is often.

    Climate gate was just the last straw as they ADMIT that they DESTROYED data that was not favorable, made numbers up to buffet their lies, EXPLAINED to all how to HAMMER anyone that chooses to speak up and how to use he MEDIA, not my words, THEIRS.

    The world in the last 11-12 years has gotten cooler or remained the same and they NEED to hide that FACT.

    Why will Al Gore NEVER debate anyone that disagrees with him on climate change (formally known as global warming until that myth was unprovable)?

    Remember sheep, these were the same geniuses that said in the 1970's we were experiencing global COOLING and a herd of Killer bees were going to get us all, sorry MORE FACTS.

    I recycle and do my part, but I don't need a gutless liberal telling me too.

    December 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. gary

    Yes the repubs believe it is just god hugging us a little closer.

    December 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Ryan Wing

    This contributes to the idea that people are too easily swayed by marketing.

    The science on climate change hasn't changed – the vast majority of un affiliated scientists agree it's a critical problem.

    December 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Mark H.

    Global Warming may in fact be happening, but humans have contributed little, and therefore cannot reverse the warming.

    The only thing that is completely man-made about Global Warming is the hysteria and fraud that people like Gore and Obama have placed on the American people.

    December 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Republicans seem not to be big fans of science (now or in the past). This is another case of that. They believe that it will slow or cripple business; that just shows that they aren't thinking and imagining the profits that could be made by new businesses helping old businesses clean up what they put out. They have always denied science that could help people or the world because it could interfer with business and the bottom line. They aren't the forward thinkers that we need.

    December 7, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. Joe

    The picture at the top of this article implicates the "worst" green-house gas of all: water vapor.

    December 7, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Marc

    Since climate skpetics are going to talk about it...
    The so-called 'Climategate' has so far did nothing to undermine the scientific consensus that there is something happening with the Weather in a Global Scale, that this is not a cooling but a warming and just (no pun intended) 'heated up' the discussion if this is man-made or not.
    WHY?
    Because there is no proof for or against that the e-mails had been EDITED or not, there is no proof that the e-mails are real or not for that matter. Some scientist recognized some of the e-mails are actually theirs, but if they were or not edited (to better 'show' the 'scam' that Global Warming 'is') it's up to the Scotland Yard or Interpol to find out, as well as who's behind the hacking.
    Plus, let's not forget that the IPCC has many others sources for their data, which has many similarities with the data now under suspicion.
    So either this 'Global Warming' is a 'Global Conspiracy' against the (US) economy and progress (yeah, sure...), or there is something really wrong with the climate.

    December 7, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Terry from West Texas

    Well, here comes the biggest Conservative lie since Conservatives argued before the Civil War that slaves were really happy. The planet is in peril – and we will all find that out in a decade or two or three, depending on how this unprecedented climate change plays out.

    Conservatives simply cannot bring themselves to believe that global warming is real. Why not? It has nothing to do with the bogus science generated by the scientific hired-guns in the pay of oil companies. No one could believe that. It is because IF it is true, THEN only massive government intervention in the "free market" (meaning a market controllled by global corporations) can prevent the worst of it from happening. We are already past the point of no return for significant but not massively destructive climate change. IF global warming is true, THEN we cannot proceed with "business as usual." They are delusional.

    However, I think they will be able to block meaningful action for a long time. Our children and grandchildren may suffer greatly, but who gives a crap about them? We'll be dead. It won't hurt us at all.

    December 7, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Eric, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    CNN is trying to make this look like a Republican thing.

    The fact that the "science" is COMPLETELY BOGUS isn't a political thing.

    Al Gore has made millions off this "scam." Obama is buying into it hook, line, and sinker.

    December 7, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Shane Walker

    Any remaining skeptics of climate destabilization–let's just drop the all-too-abused-and-confused 'global warming' moniker right here, just need to look at the mountains of data, and use their eyes.

    Leave the La-Z-boy in your little corner of the world and take a trip to, say, any great glacier area, bringing along some photos of the same area from decades past (how about Glacier National Park? It's beautiful and worth the visit). Next, how about a look at some dried up lake beds, and the rain meters of formerly temperate/moderate-rainfall areas that have seen flooding like never before the last several years. Ask folks in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest where crops were nearly ruined and cities went underwater after record swirls of jetstream from the overheated Gulf continued to inundate the region. It's not the future, it's here.

    It's real–wake up.

    December 7, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. NJDave

    The poll reflects the mis-information provided by Fox News to their mostly clueless viewers

    December 7, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. The Real Repblican Motto: "In Fear We Trust"

    Well, that's because democrats believe in science, while republicans have thrown their lot in with the faith-based "men ran around with dinosaurs 3000 years" ago crowd.
    It's easier and more comforting to ignore all the evidence and instead try and believe the climate change boogy-man doesn't exist. Having a majority of your party getting their information from the Foxulist screeching heads on the White Power Network doesn't help matters, either.

    December 7, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Big Jim

    Many Americans are skeptical about man-made climate change because many Americans are just plain ignorant about the real world around them. But it's no surpise. My guess is that a scientific poll would suggest these are the same people who listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and admire Sarah Palin

    December 7, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. hypocrisy?

    There is a difference between global temperature change and man-made global warming. The earth has gone through temperature cycles since it first existed, and will always continue to do so. Man did not create the ice age nor the warming that ended it. Why, all of a sudden, is man responsible for climate change? It is perfectly reasonable to agree with the facts of say, polar ice melting, and not for one second believe tha man has anything to do with it or can do anything about it.

    December 7, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. GW

    Is this any kind of surprise? Of couse it's a hoax, just another pyramid scam to make money! Al Gore at the bottom!

    December 7, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Jennifer

    Or perhaps the drop in support comes from evidence flooding out that climate scientists have been screwing with the numbers to make their case.

    Sticking your fingers in your ears and saying LALALA loudly doesn't make this fact go away.

    December 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Loup Garou 782

    Some day when it is to late to regain control, the people will realize they have been suckered.
    Then they can look beck to what might have been if only they had been a little more skeptical of the intentions of the global Warming Green Earth Freaks.
    Good luck in recapturing what you have lost. Me, I'm 82 years old and I won't be around to remind you "I told you so, but you wouldn't listen"

    December 7, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. Todd

    Of COURSE Republicans don't believe in global warming. It's based on scientific facts, and the GOP turned its back on that a long time ago. They have become the party of screeching conspiracy theories, failed economic policies and anti-intellectualism. The American people, thank God, have seen through their guff for years now.

    December 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Fan of Common Sense

    Climate change has been an ongoing process on planet earth since its formation. It's natural. I'm no scientist and I'm not going to say that there's no connection between industry and climate change, but when you have hypocrites like the Hollywood PRIVATE JET-setters and Al Gore (who has raked in millions from this so-called cause), it's getting harder and harder to take it seriously. Many around the world see it simply as a way to hobble the economies of the U.S. and the rest of the western world. Apparently it's only WESTERN pollution that causes global warming.

    December 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Gene Brady

    It really doesn't matter if the scientists are wrong about global warming. The point is this... If we do nothing we stay as is. If we help the planet, why is that bad? GOD wants us to help the planet HE created, don't you think? If so, would that mean HE'D be very pissed at those that want to destroy it, or allow it to be destroyed? The POSITIVE thing to do is save our planet. The negative thing to do is NOTHING.

    December 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Big John

    I've witnessed first hand the melting of glaciers and the winters becoming increasingly milder in Alaska for over 40 years. There's no doubt in my mind or anyone who thinks intelligently that global warming is happening at an alarming rate. Those naysayers can stick their heads in the sand and pretend it's not real but when the sea level rises they'll drown. Pretending it's not happening doesn't make it so.

    December 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. D. Tree

    You don't even need to believe in global warming to know that pumping billions of tons of POLLUTION and CANCER into the air is plain WRONG.

    Wake up people, forget about global warming, we should all agree that taking care of our planet needs to be a top priority – no more excuses, the responsible thing is to take care of this great planet God gave us.

    December 7, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Sean

    If "two-thirds of all Americans believe global warming is a proven fact", then I believe 2/3 of Americans are idiots. I already know 52% of them were not too bright after last November, but 2/3? Man caused global warming is far from a proven fact. The skeptics are not all right-wing nutjobs. Many people in the scientific community are still skeptical. By the way, these 'hacked' e-mails were subject to the UK equivalent of the Freedom of Information Act. They should have been released long ago, before these con-artists had a chance to "delete them" (their words, not mine)...

    December 7, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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