December 7th, 2009
04:01 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Skepticism on global warming heating up?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Scott

    If we believe in the real science and take corrective action to stop the pollution spilling into our environment and poisoning us and our planet – and "Climate change" really was a myth – at least we would have a cleaner place to live, less poisons in our food, better health.

    If we choose to believe the deniers and continue on filling our environment and homes with pollution because we don't "believe" in Climate change – and we are wrong – the entire human species could be eliminated from this planet.

    If people choose to gamble – why are they betting on choice that could destroy everything if they're wrong. Destruction of humankind for a few money hungry egos. That's a crime above all others.

    December 7, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. Al Leong Toronto

    The argument is hanging primarily over semantics and context of usage of a word. (algebra or mathematical context – procedure to solve a puzzle).

    The republican in question, is being swayed and possibly projecting his own faults of deceit rather than understanding the evidence and data (statistical analysis and deterministic logic) for political gain. Scientists have nothing to gain either way from there being global warming or not. they are there to determine the truth. they are paid either way, by governments, NGOs and contract research organizations.

    The republican in question (I love mccain by the way)... is unoriginal in his tactic to sway unknowledgeable voters and the public. it is irresponsible of this senator to do so.

    December 7, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Scott

    There's a difference between denying a warming trend and denying human cause. The concern of a vigilant citizen should be centered on the difficulty of proving a causal relationship between human activity and global warming. An even greater concern should be focused on an awareness of anti-humanist mindsets that dominate academia today. If your goal is to illustrate man as inherently evil, what better bandwagon is there to latch on to? If you want to apologize for man's progress and deem him as unworthy to share the planet with lesser species, climate change is a great platform from which to make your case.

    A responsible citizen should always remain skeptical of the motivation for blaming mankind for climate change, regardless of the number of scientists who have joined in the climate change "consensus."

    December 7, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. Marie Laveaux

    The Republicans are right! Global Warming Theories are just a communist plot by Liberals to take over the earth and force everyone to breathe clean air and drink pure water. Science is evil.

    December 7, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Steve (the real one)

    Amoungest all this he-said she -said, it would not and could not hurt for all of us to do better by the environment. The problem is we are taking a theory and threatening to destroy the economy over it! The cap and trade threat is based on a theory, not fact as no one has proven anything! And lastly sceptics as you call us, are not afraid of science. What you global warmer alarmists are presenting is not a proven science!

    December 7, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Jason

    I'm in the 'believe in global warming but skeptical it is man made' camp. I not saying it definitively isn't, just that I think we really can't say at this point. The science behind the computer modeling of CO2's effect on climate is very interesting, but there's just so much that these models admittedly do not take into effect. Anyone who has worked with trying to model complex systems knows how uncertain future predictions are when not all the inputs of the system trying to be modeled are known.

    December 7, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. A. Smith, Oregon

    The current levels of global CO2 is higher than at anytime in the past 800,000 years and rising.

    Pour in the Sulfur Rain from Big Oil's energy plants in America and a healthy dose of Trillions of methane gas releasing from Siberia's wastelands into the atmosphere and you have the recipe for the current hell on earth temperatures routinely found on the planet Venus.

    Atmospheric livability is a very thin and narrow band of conditions. American coal burning plants are absolutely pushing the Earth outside of the band of livability just to promote their corporates bottom line.

    The entire Republican Party and their Big Corp. Puppets Republican lawmakers should be forced to sequester next to a Coal Plant so they can modify their grievous behavior.

    December 7, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Alex

    "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.

    Gee, ya think?!?! Clearly the Republican Party and the corporate lobbies that back them are happy to court only the most ignorant, malleable morons as their voting base. The Democrats share many of the same corporate backers, especially in the coal industry, so it's pretty doubtful that Waxman-Markey will be anything better than a gesture to try to appease the "green" part of the Dem base if it makes it past the Senate... Two tactics for the same result: GOP incites the ignorant nationalistic masses to protest Dem policy, Dems pretend to put up a fight and blame the eventual neutering of their policy on the opposition. As a result, the GOP gets good voter turnout, the Dem base is pacified into thinking their representatives are trying to fight for their causes (they're not), and the energy industry gets a free pass to continue polluting and a few years off from congressional scrutiny.

    While these crooks hammer out their back room deals and tell their constituents fairy tales, our coastal cities continue to be under threat of nature, our water sources disappear, and cancer clusters abound...

    December 7, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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